“Pour a double gin,
here’s to your double chin”
Back when Adam Sandler was, you know, tolerable, he did rom-coms like 1998’s The Wedding Singer and where even moderately successful films go, musical theatre adaptations surely follow. Tim Herlihy adapts his own screenplay along with lyricist Chad Beguelin, and original music comes from Matthew Sklar, and the result is a perfectly competent piece of musical theatre which is fun without ever really being fantastic.
Opening at Leicester’s Curve ahead of a 8 month long UK tour (dates and venue at the end of this review), you can see where Nick Winston’s production has made its key decisions – Francis O’Connor’s set has its eye on quick get-outs and so Jack Henry’s video projections do a lot of the heavy lifting in setting the 80s milieu. And the casting mixes West End reliability with TV name recognition, the cherry on the cake of course being Ruth Madoc.
But for all its way with a one-liner and any number of 80s references, there’s no denying the slightness of the plot and its lack of anything approaching dramatic tension or genuine characterisation. So the production has to rely on the fortunately immense acres of charm that Jon Robyns has as his disposal as the heart-sore Robbie, and Cassie Compton as his sweet colleague Julia are able to generate against the odds.
I still can’t look at Ray Quinn without seeing his murdering Scouse schoolboy from Brookside so his physicality now is even more disturbing, although suited here to his love rat Glen, and Roxanne Pallett does her best with flimsy writing as Julia’s best friend. Ruth Madoc as Robbie’s grandmother appears to be having the time of her life but only Samuel Holmes as one of Robbie’s bandmates manages to really break through in the supporting cast.
The Wedding Singer is undoubtedly cheesy and it is fun in its best moments, Winston’s choreography having a lot to do with this. And Jon Robyns makes for the kind of leading man it’s hard to resist, his approachable everyman appeal perfect for the role here. His performance certainly elevates the material and it is for him, rather than the show at large, that you’ll say ‘I do’.