Civic Theatre’s Season Ends on High-Note with The Wedding Singer (Review)
I got a chance to see the Civic Theatre Production of The Wedding Singer this weekend. Here's what I thought.
As I write this review, I keep thinking about how much I enjoyed the Civic Theatre's production of The Wedding Singer. I had never seen the Adam Sandler film that the musical is based on and was pleasantly surprised that that didn't hinder my experience. The musical also didn't prey on my sometimes bleak outlook on love and romance but rather told a realistic and compelling story.
For those unfamiliar, The Wedding Singer follows the story of Robbie Hart (Jordan Willis), a wedding singer who, along with his bandmates Sammy (Leo Kempf) and George (Alex Hellenberg), write a successful love song, and become the most in-demand wedding band in the area. While performing at weddings, he befriends one of the waitresses at the venue, Julia (Tara Sorg). On the day of his own wedding, Robbie is left at the alter by his fiancee, Linda (Chynna Hall). Crushed by this betrayal, Robbie downward spirals and his wedding performances get a lot darker. The story then becomes one of redemption, and as you may have guessed it, love, as Julia and Robbie develop a fondness for one another.
The story is incredibly sweet, backed by several stand-out performances. Jordan Willis as Robbie Hart was a fantastic choice. This was Jordan's first time back on-stage in more than 12 years and I was shocked to to learn that, as there was no indication that he'd be away that long. He brought charm, vulnerability, and an amazing voice to Robbie Hart. Someone commented after the show that no one else in the area could have pulled off Robbie. I don't know if no one else could have pulled it off, but after seeing Jordan's performance, I don't think I would have wanted to see anyone else in the role.
Tara Sorg as Julia was a natural fit. Tara portrayed the character with strength yet still remained vulnerable and uncertain about the character's future. Yes, she knew that she would be more secure with her fiancee Glen (Joe Gilpatrick), but you could see how conflicted she was about the marriage, especially after her and Robbie kiss for the first time. Also, as I type this, I'm still delighted at the song "Come Out of the Dumpster" and Tara's fantastic performance of playing the song sweet, while still maintaining the absurdity that is involved with a song called "Come Out of the Dumpster." Tara has a great voice and showcased her talent as a naturally gifted vocalist.
Chynna Hall as Linda was probably my favorite cast member in regards to comedy. The song in which she announces her break-up with Robbie was hilarious and the crowd loved it. I might be a little bit biased since Chynna is a good friend (and we work here together), but she did a great job and continues to improve in each production she's involved with for the Civic Theatre.
Joe Gilpatrick as the despicable guy-who-doesn't-deserve-the-girl-the-lead-deserves-to-be-with was very good. I walked away thinking that Joe might actually be a garbage-human which I think is high praise when portraying a character as despicable as Glen Gulia. I also have to mention that Alex Hellenberg as the Boy-George-esque glam-rocker, George, was definitely a highlight. Alex is always one of my favorite parts of any Civic show and this was no exception. Bonnie Bartley as Rosie, Robbie's grandma, was hilarious and I loved the performance she brought to the character (there's also a great stunt-double moment towards the end that is brilliant).
My only real critique of the show was that occasionally the orchestra would drown out the performers on-stage. This was particularly noticeable during songs in which Holly (Jessica McQuillin) was singing. This was disappointing because I was invested in this story and wanted to clearly hear what was being said/sang and also disappointing because I really enjoyed the character of Holly. Hopefully, in future shows, this can be rectified.
One thing that I thought was very creative during the show, was the use of pre-filmed segments that played on a projector. During the climax of the film, this really helped the illusion that these characters were traveling to different locations. I also like any show that has the actors out in the crowd and interacting. I'm a fan of all things fourth-wall breaking so I was glad to see that incorporated.
Overall, The Wedding Singer once again raised the standard that Artistic Director Kevin Roach started at the beginning of the season with Peter and the Starcatcher. The Wedding Singer is a fun and catchy musical that fans of musical theatre and fans of the Adam Sandler film can enjoy. I highly recommend seeing this show!
The show runs runs one more weekend with showtimes at 7:30 pm on Friday, May 19th and Saturday, May 20th with a final 2:00 pm matinee on Sunday, May 21st You can get tickets by calling the box office at 812-425-2800, or you can get them online at wwww.evansvillecivictheatr
Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $16 for seniors, and $12 for students (under 21)