By Katie Hambor
It’s 1985 in Ridgefield, New Jersey. Hair is big, bridesmaids’ dresses are poufy and parachute pants are in. You are transported to A Touch of Class reception hall for a night of music and dancing, and the show begins.
Rider University’s musical theater program presented numerous performances of “The Wedding Singer” in the Yvonne Theater beginning on Nov. 17.
Night after night, New Jersey’s favorite wedding singer Robbie Hart (sophomore Greg Clark) serenades wedding parties with his band mates George (senior Tyler Eley) and Sammy (senior Zachary Schanne), and guarantees that, when his music starts to play, love will find you. However, Robbie is left at the altar at his own wedding by his fiancée Linda (junior Amy Donato) and is forced to come to terms with the fact that he may not actually be good with love. With the help of his friend Julia (junior Elena Camp), he gets back on his feet. Meanwhile, Julia is hoping to become engaged to her longtime boyfriend Glen (sophomore Alexander Robin Kass). Julia’s friend Holly (senior Kaitlyn Frotton) also has some issues with her ex-boyfriend Sammy.
“The Wedding Singer” was nominated for Tony Awards such as “Best Musical” and “Best Score” during the 2006 Broadway season. This comical, romantic musical, directed by Miriam Mills with musical direction by Louis F. Goldberg, is for everyone.
There are upbeat dance numbers, including the opening number, “It’s Your Wedding Day.” There are rock ’n’ roll songs as well, such as “Casualty of Love.” Those who have seen the original movie with Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore will recognize two acoustic guitar songs, “Somebody Kill Me” and “Grow Old With You.”
“The music is so catchy,” Donato said. “The songs in the show represent different songs from the ’80s.”
There are plenty of ensemble numbers that showcase every single cast member. Not one member overshadowed the rest, because all did a phenomenal job at portraying each role.
“The role I play is so quirky,” Eley said. “It’s obviously nothing like who I am, so it has been a fun challenge and an interesting adventure diving into the part.”
Choreographer Robin Lewis, an assistant professor within the musical theater dance faculty, did an extraordinary job. There were some brilliant lifts and the formations were clean and very well thought out.
The costumes designed by Logan Barrie Thompson were true to the era, with plenty of layers, puffed sleeves, animal print and leather pants. Most of the female cast had big crimped hair to complete the look.
At times the band was a bit too loud to hear the soloists, but was exceptional regardless. The vocal performances were flawless, even through difficult dances.
The set, designed by German Cardenas-Alaminos, mainly consisted of a silvery curtain that served as the backdrop for the wedding reception hall, and moving set pieces were brought out in front for other scenes. All of the scenes were well-lit with lighting designed by Brenda Veltre.
“The lighting is great and it really brings you into the show,” Schanne said. “Since the show has many freezes and visualizations of written thoughts, great lighting is essential.”
If you’re disappointed that you have yet to see “The Wedding Singer,” you still have two more chances tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m.