Blame it on the movies
The Wedding Singer
Sacramento, CA 95818
It’s common for plays to be made into movies, but not the other way round. Runaway Stage Productions’ latest offering, The Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy, might just be a reason why. Bob Baxter directs this adaptation of the 1998 Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore film and proves even dedicated actors can’t make lemonade from some lemons.
Wedding singer Robbie Hart (David “Turtle” Akona) befriends future-bride Julia (Caitlin Martin) and must help her realize that he is her true love—and not her jerk fiancé, Glen (Spencer Johnson).
The film is a charming and tongue-in-cheek portrayal of the early 80s from the view of the late 90s, but this script fails to evoke any of the same feeling. The leads are stripped of originality and suffused with cheap musical theatre archetypes. Most of the jokes from the film fall flat, regardless of how hard the players attempt to make them land.
That said, it’s the material’s fault. Many performances are a treat to watch, most notably those of Robbie’s band mate, George (Joseph Boyette), and ex-fiancée, Linda (Jennifer Schmeltzer). Female lead Martin is in good voice and male lead Akona, while not the strongest singer, gives a gusto-filled performance as the underdog wedding singer of the title.
The production boasts a large cast that sings and dances its heart out. Many numbers throughout the show involve large-scale choreography, some of which cleverly feature moves that were popular about 30 years ago.
Runaway Stage’s choice to produce musicals based on films this season seems justified: What better way to get people into a theatre who don’t usually go? But this mishmash attempt at taking the story of a film, stripping it of its individuality and creating a monster of cookie-cutter romcom and musical theatre falls short of what could be done with the medium.
The company’s 2012 season includes musical versions of The Full Monty and Legally Blonde, and hopefully audiences can look forward to smoother adaptations than this lackluster choice.