Wedding Singer musical hits local stage

When I think about Broadway musicals, a comedy film that starred Adam Sandler isn’t usually the first thing that jumps out as a brilliant idea. Though, given the large array of choices, “The Wedding Singer” would be the only Sandler movie that I would give credibility to as a musical. Even with this in mind, the Broadway adaptation surpassed my wildest expectations and left me feeling like I’d been treated to something special.

“The Wedding Singer” Broadway musical, which was written by the film’s writers Tim Herlihy and Chad Beguelin with music by Matthew Sklar, is being performed by Runaway Stage Production through Feb. 5, at the 24th Street Theatre.

According to Bob Baxter, producing director of the Runaway Stage Productions’ presentation of the musical, the Broadway version was met with “a lukewarm reaction” during its 284 performances in 2006.

Despite its failure on Broadway, this is a musical that is perfect for a local non-profit production company. There is some vulgarity and several sexually suggestive scenes in the movie but the play adaptation did a good job of excluding most of these while still maintaining a fair amount of comedy. Still, the musical shouldn’t be seen by children under the age of 10.

Backed by a wonderful orchestra conducted by Gary Suits, the musical displayed an obvious amount of effort, time and plenty of practice on the parts of the actors, actresses and orchestra alike. The dancing, singing and music were perfectly timed and coordinated, never missing a beat.

The costumes were beautiful and the minimal set pieces were well-designed and colorful. The sound was well balanced and every single line blared through the speakers right alongside the music, crisp and clear.

David “Turtle” Akona lead the play as Robbie Hart who was played by Adam Sandler in the movie and Caitland Martin played Julia, who was originally played by Drew Barrymore. Cassie March and Spencer Johnson rounded up the main cast as Holly and Glen, respectively. The entire cast did an amazing job of keeping the characters true to the movie but also putting a unique spin on their over-the-top personalities.

Not to take anything away from the performers, but the musical itself had a few flaws which perhaps is why it didn’t do well on the Broadway stage. The ending was changed quite a bit from the movie version and there were only the two songs that Sandler co-wrote for the movie remained intact in the musical.

In addition, a few of the characters were portrayed differently from the film. There were a couple characters not present in the musical adaptation at all. This isn’t to say that’s a bad thing—it just wasn’t exactly what I expected. Not to mention, some of my favorite scenes from the movie were done differently in the play or weren’t present at all.

The biggest flaw of the musical was that the loss of the ’80s music made it hard to believe that the events of the play were taking place in that era. However, the music that was written for the play was wonderfully selected and fit perfectly with the story. I just would have liked the music to have a more ’80s feel.

For me, the part when Robbie’s ex-fiancé, Linda, sings the note she left after standing him up at the altar is a high point in the production. The best song was the harmonious performance between Akona (Robbie) and Martin (Julia) as he stood outside her window the night before her wedding.

Overall, the two-and-a-half hour play was an enjoyable experience and is a must see if you’re a fan of the movie. Tickets run $22 each which isn’t bad for a live production at this level of expertise especially when you consider that your money is supporting a non-profit local theatre group that offers multiple programs for children.

Other performances on tap for the rest of Runaway Stage Productions’ 2012 schedule include, “Legally Blonde,” “The Full Monty,” “Annie” and “Fiddler on the Roof.”

The 24th Street Theatre is located at 2791 24th Street in Sacramento. For more information about Runaway Stage Productions, its children’s programs or to buy tickets to “The Wedding Singer,” you can visit www.runawaystage.com or contact Karen Day at kday@runawaystage.com


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