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'.
Running time: 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 18th February then touring:
Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 February 2017, Sunderland Empire;
Monday 27 February – Saturday 4 March 2017, Cardiff, New Theatre;
Tuesday 7 – Saturday 11 March 2017, Dublin, Bord Gáis Energy Theatre;
Tuesday 14 – Saturday 18 March 2017, Bristol Hippodrome;
Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 March 2017, Dartford, Orchard Theatre;
Tuesday 28 March – Saturday 1 April 2017, Cambridge Corn Exchange;
Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 April 2017, Southampton, Mayflower Theatre;
Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 April 2017, Belfast, Grand Opera House;
Tuesday 18 – Saturday 2 April 2017, Glasgow, King’s Theatre;
Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 April 2017, Bradford Alhambra;
Tuesday 9 – Saturday 13 May 2017, Nottingham, Theatre Royal;
Monday 15 – Saturday 20 May 2017, Manchester, Opera House;
Tuesday 23 – Saturday 27 May 2017, Birmingham, Alexandra Theatre;
Tuesday 30 – Saturday 3 June 2017, Liverpool Empire;
Tuesday 6 – Saturday 10 June, Edinburgh, King’s Theatre;
Tuesday 20 – Saturday 24 June 2017, Aberdeen, His Majesty’s Theatre;
Tuesday 27 June- Saturday 1 July 2017, Inverness, Eden Court;
Tuesday 4 – Saturday 8 July 2017, Blackpool Opera House;
Tuesday 11 – Saturday 15 July 2017, High Wycombe, Swan Theatre;
Tuesday 25 – Saturday 29 July 2017, Llandudno, Venue Cymru;
Tuesday 1 – Saturday 5 August 2017, Bromley, Churchill Theatre;
Tuesday 8 – Saturday 12 August 2017, Theatre Royal, Plymouth;
Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 August 2017, Leeds Grand Theatre;
Tuesday 29 August – Saturday 2 September 2017, Leeds Grand Theatre;
Tuesday 5 – Saturday 9 September 2017, Tunbridge Wells, Assembly Hall Theatre;
Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 September 2017, Shrewsbury, Theatre Severn;
Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 September 2017, Swansea, Grand Theatre;
Tuesday 26 – Saturday 30 September 2017, Portsmouth, King’s Theatre