The Wedding Singer, now playing at the Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, will transport you back to the 80s – complete with big hair, big shoulder pads, and big fun. Between the amazing musical score, the awesome 80s costumes, and the high-energy dances, you’re guaranteed a truly bodacious time.
The storyline basically follows the movie of the same name. Robbie Hart (Jamie Austin Jacobs) is a wedding singer in New Jersey who is incredibly excited to marry his ‘goddess’ Linda (Hannah Thornhill). When she stands him up at the altar, Robbie completely breaks down. Thankfully, Julia (Layne Seaman), a waitress at the reception hall where Robbie regularly performs, helps him through this trying time, and it’s clear from the beginning that the two are meant to be. One problem…Julia is engaged to Glen (Jeffrey Hawkins), a too-cool-for-school bond broker.
Between the amazing musical score, the awesome 80s costumes, and the high-energy dances, you’re guaranteed a truly bodacious time.
Eventually, Julia discovers that it’s Robbie she wants to be with, despite Glen’s good looks and money. But when she finds Linda in Robbie’s bed, she decides to hop on a flight to Vegas to get married. Robbie, who never had any intention of being with Linda, finds out about the plan and takes the next flight out. Of course, you can see where this is heading…like any good musical, everything ends happily ever after with Robbie and Julia admitting their love for each other.
Jacobs was incredibly loveable as ‘born romantic’ Robbie Hart. How could you not love a guy who makes up silly love songs and treats his grandma so well? Never mind his awesome 80s fashion sense (think jean jackets, parachute pants, and Van Halen t-shirts) and rocking hair. Seaman was perfect in her role as Julia. So sweet you couldn’t help but root for her to get rid of that slimeball Glen.
The rest of the cast also shone in their roles. Holly (Ashley Gladden) channeled her inner Madonna as she tried to seduce Robbie – and later ended up with bandmate Sammy (Fred Fletcher-Jackson). George (Robbie Dinsmore) was perfect in his role as an ‘androgynous’ Boy George character. And Linda (Thornhill) was the girl we love to hate, the epitome of skank. Of course, we can’t forget Grandma Rosie (Phyllis J Everette) who was hysterical as a hip granny who just tells it as it is.
Besides being great actors, each and every member of the cast had a truly amazing voice. Seaman was beyond sweet when she sang “If I Told You.” Jacobs was her perfect vocal counterpart in “Grow Old With You.” And Gladden killed it with “Saturday Night in the City.”
I can’t even decide on the best part of the musical. But the humor would definitely be near the top. As a child of the 80s, I loved all the references to the decade. Glen makes a poor decision to forgo that ‘Seattle coffee chain’ and buy Coca-Cola instead – after all, that New Coke is really going to take off. And you can’t help but laugh when you see him carrying around that briefcase-sized mobile phone or buying Julia the latest in technology – a $900 CD player. Each actor also gets some great one-liners (for example, when Julia’s mom references a fake pregnancy so Julia can marry Glen… “but Glen is a lot smarter than dad”). And even the song lyrics are filled with humor… in ‘Awesome’ Julia and Robbie rhyme Remington Steele with happy meal and Captain and Tennille (and of course floss ‘em and sauce ‘em rhyme great with ‘awesome’).
The humor even extended into the dancing – with “Flashdance” and “Thriller” references — the costumes (loved Sammy with his Michael Jackson glove and red jacket), and the actors’ movements (Julia was so excited about a wedding, she fed the bride and groom their cake). And I can’t forget about the 80s impersonators who were witnesses at Julia and Glen’s wedding. There’s nothing like a wedding officiated by a fake Ronald Reagan.
The costumes (Lin Whetzel) were totally awesome – and there were a ton of costume changes. Every 80s trend was out there from Glen’s plaid pants and polo shirts to the bright bridesmaids dresses with lots of bows to the 80s ‘power suit.’ The band had a variety of sequin jackets and thin musical ties… and each band member had their own style; Sammy had his tie around his head while George wore his sequin jacket with frilly blouses.
The choreography (Becca Vourvolas) was also spot on. The show started off with a bang as the company danced to “It’s Your Wedding Day.” The losers of love from Table 9 were great in “Casualty of Love.” Linda totally rocked it in “Let Me Come Home.” And the guys did a great job in “Single.”
A nod also has to be given to the set design (Andrew Mannion). The neon background was perfect for the decade, and the Murphy bed (complete with vibration for only a quarter) made changing sets easier. In Act 2, I realized the set was also bi-level so Julia could try on wedding dresses upstairs while Robbie watched her below.
I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the show. It was like traveling back in time. And I was truly disappointed when I had to go ‘back to the future’ and return to 2016. The Wedding Singer was totally awesome.
Advisory: Profanity, sexual references.
Running Time: 2.5 hours with a 20 minute intermission.
The Wedding Singer plays through June 18, 2016 at Annapolis Summer Garden Theatre, 143 Compromise Street, in Annapolis, MD. For tickets, call the box office at (410) 268-9212, or purchase them online.