Theater

“The Wedding Singer” at Mac-Haydn is sweet and silly

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“The Wedding Singer” at Mac-Haydn is sweet and silly

 

Welcome to 1986: Robbie Hart (Conor Robert Fallon) is a wedding singer; he, along with his two friends George (Connor Hubbard) and Sammy (Jonah Hale), originally planned to make it big as a heavy metal band, but that dream has been put aside. He is engaged to marry Linda (Maggie Eley), who he’s been dating for years. Right before his wedding, he meets Julia (Kate Zulauf), a waitress at a wedding where he’s performing; they hit it off almost immediately, but as they’re both in serious relationships – she’s been dating Glen (Nathaniel Dolquist) for years – they become friends. Linda abandons Robbie at the altar, saying she can’t marry a man who lives in his grandmother’s basement and is content with his lot in life; suddenly he’s is in a tailspin. He realizes he might have feelings for Julia, who realizes the same thing – but she’s eloping with Glen. Is it too late for them?

The theater had a lot of fun with this one – they’ve done the place up ‘80s style, complete with clothing, hairstyles, lots of neon colors and geometric designs to set the scene. Bethany Marx’s costume design is on point – I felt like I was back in junior high (and sadly realized most of the performers probably weren’t alive in the ‘80s and sighed a sad old sigh.) The men’s hair needed less poufing and more feathering – come on, I had to live through the Age of Aqua Net, I know of what I speak! – but Hale’s Flock of Seagulls hairdo was fantastic. Andrew Gmoser’s lighting design was playful and added so much to the production – it was especially effective in “All About the Green” with various panels on the walls flashing neon green in time with the music.

Erin Spears Ledford keeps everyone on task with her direction and Sebastiani Romagnolo’s choreography brought back happy memories of the early days of MTV (ah, music videos, how you’re missed.)

Fallon and Zulauf have lovely chemistry and their harmonies are wonderful – what a great job casting these two as the romantic leads here. Their “Not That Kind of Thing” and “If I Told You” are standouts. Fallon does well with the actual bits lifted straight from the movie – his “Somebody Kill Me” got some of the biggest laughs of the night – and his “Casualty of Love” with the misfit wedding guests is one of the funniest, and strongest, songs in the show. (It’s interesting to see where they’ve replaced actual songs in the movie with original songs in the musical – “Casualty of Love” fits in perfectly where “Love Stinks” was in the film.) Emma Flynn, playing Julia’s cousin Holly, is strong as well – she has a ton of stage presence and doesn’t take herself too seriously, which, in this role, is crucial.

Sometimes I want to be challenged by what I see, and sometimes I just want a silly, sappy romance – and this fits the latter bill spectacularly. There’s a lot of laughter and even a few tears here, and, most importantly, a lot of heart.

“The Wedding Singer”; Mac-Haydn Theatre, 1925 Route 203, Chatham; through August 19; $39.50-$15; Run time: 2 hours and 20 minutes with a 25-minute intermission; 518-392-9292; http://www.machaydntheatre.org/

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