"The Wedding Singer" (Haven Theatre): Rocking, Sweet Frolic

"The Wedding Singer" (Haven Theatre):  Rocking, Sweet Frolic

Haven Theatre Chicago presents THE WEDDING SINGER.

The 1998 movie THE WEDDING SINGER starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore was a rom-com hit.  The romantic tale was set in the 1980s.  Half the popularity of the movie was the nostalgia around the music and fashion.  The 80s was the dawn of the music video.  More than any other era, music influenced fashion and fashion influenced music.  It was a decade of big hair, break-dancing, parachute pants, high tops, moon walking and individualism.

In 2006, a musical version was produced on Broadway and had a lackluster run that ended the same year.  The musical is pretty true to the movie plot but without the Sandler and Barrymore adorability factor some of the za-za-zoom is missing. The story is trite.  The jokes are predictable.  Still, Haven Theatre’s THE WEDDING SINGER is full of energetic numbers that bring unexpected pizazz.  Music Director Kory Danielson and Choreographer Jim Beaudry crank up the volume and dance off the misery with “Casualty of Love,” “All About the Green” and “Singles.”  These high-spirited songs bring out the head-bopping, shoulder-popping, chair-swaying from the audience.  The ensemble sings and dances about heartache, greed and lust with equal enthusiasm.  Beaudry showcases the dramatic emotion with light-hearted, lively orchestration.  The numbers are every bit an 80s music video.

Despite Danielson’s band spritely jamming, some of the singing falls a little flat especially in ballads.  The more upbeat songs flourish. The wedding singer and his crew, Tony Allen (Robbie), Daniel Martinez (Sammy), Alex Heika (George), bring a playful, hometown band vibe.   The sassy Sarah Bockel (Holly) belts out “Saturday Night in the City” with full-on moxie.  One of my favorite numbers was the rapping duet of grandma (Judy Lea Steele ) with Boy George lookalike (Heika).  Hilarious! And the magnificent Jill Sesso (Linda) provides two show-stopping moments with “A note from Linda” and “Let me come home.”  Sesso plays skanky whore with perfect comedic timing and beautiful vocal stylings.

The 80s called and Costume Designer Stephanie Cluggish responded in style!  She drapes the large cast in fringe, flair, and flashback.  There are multiple wardrobe changes so it’s a revolving 80s fashion show. For good AND bad, I see outfits my friends and I created back in the day.  Cluggish impressively dresses this show up in vintage mockery.

Haven’s THE WEDDING SINGER is a rocking, sweet frolic.  The look and sound is fun!  It reminds us any day is a “Nice day for a white wedding.”


Running Time: Two hours and fifteen minutes includes an intermission

At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont

Based on the 1998 movie written by Tim Herlihy

Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy

Music by Matthew Sklar

Lyrics by Chad Beguelin

Directed by Jess McLeod

Music direction by Kory Danielson

Choreography by Jim Beaudry

Thursdays and Fridays at 8pm

Saturdays at 2pm and 8pm

Sundays at 7pm

Thru November 17th

Buy Tickets at www.haventheatrechicago.org.

Production photo by Dean LaPrairie

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