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A CurtainUp Review
The Wedding Singer

There's a big shiny future you've been dying to buy
Better start power lunching in your power tie
You can't wait for fate to somehow intervene
If you wanna be somebody
It's all about the green

--- Glenn, in "It's All About the Green."

Stephen Lynch as <i>The Wedding Singer</i>
Stephen Lynch as The Wedding Singer.
(Photo: Joan Marcus
How does she do it, pop-singer Cyndi Lauper, that is? Can this be a first, to make one's Broadway debut simultaneously in two different shows? Lauper, who is currently wallowing in the morbidity of The Threepenny Opera over at Studio 54 can also be seen joining the soon-to-be-wed kids in the finale of The Wedding Singer on the stage of the Al Hirschfeld Theater.

Despite the magic of the stage, the artistry of makeup and costuming, it is safe to presume that the real Lauper is much too busy inhabiting the role of prostitute Jenny to yank off her wooly white wig and run nine blocks south just for a walk-on, or for the prospect of a free canapé. Rest easy, as the Lauper we see sharing the stage for a fleeting moment with Wedding stars Stephen Lynch and Laura Benanti is an imposter.

We are not really fooled either by the other faux celebrities (Imelda Marcos, Tina Turner, Mr. T., Billy Idol, and Ronald Reagan) who collectively make a fleeting appearance at the glitzy Las Vegas wedding chapel where the wedding singer cum rock star wannabe Robbie Hart (Lynch) and caterer waitress Julia (Benanti) reach their romantic epiphany. The real question is less whether we are fooled, but whether we're captivated by Lynch and Benanti, who are playing the roles originated by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore in the 1998 hit teen film. Despite their very different approach to roles that don't particularly beg for too much interpretive depth, the answer is yes. Comedian Lynch, who is also making his Broadway debut, and Benanti, whose loveliness and talent have adorned the revivals of The Sound of Music, Nine and Into the Woods, bring comedic esprit, excellent voices and charm to this breezily inane show that makes no apologies for its retro-fied faux-ness.

Under the direction of John Rando (Urinetown, etc.), there's no mistaking that this show wants to send up the tacky fashion modes and crass social behavior of the 1980s in a manner that proved so waywardly winning in the current 1960s-inspired musical hit Hairspray. Kudos to designer Scott Pask's settings, Gregory Gale's costumes and David Brian Brown's hair design which help Rando achieve his aim with their garish period-lampooning evocations.

Rob Ashford's energetic choreography can certainly be lauded for distilling all the moves that made the 80s so easy to forget. If the references that define The Wedding Singer are not in the same league with the more wacko socio-political oeuvre of Hairspray, it stays safely ensconced within it own less demanding world. But that doesn't preclude a reasonably good time to be had by those who have already seen the rather endearing film and those inclined to see to what degree composer Matthew Sklar, book writers Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy and lyricist Chad Beguelin have enhanced a film that has evidently assumed a small but secure niche in our culture.

The plot in brief: When New Jersey wedding singer Robbie is jilted on his own wedding day by his trashy fiancee Linda (Felicia Finley), he goes into a deep funk ("Somebody Kill Me.") but is unwittingly drawn to a compassionate Julia -- notwithstanding the fact that she is engaged to bad guy Glen Guglia (Richard H. Blake), an unfaithful hot-shot Wall Street wheeler-dealer. Although the comely Blake has to sing and dance the amusingly cynical "All About the Green" in a gray business suit, he makes it a dazzler.

Body beautiful Finley comes the closest to stopping the show with her ferociously seductive contortions in "Let Me Come Home," Characters with loose morals are known to add flavor to musical comedies and Amy Spangler adds plenty of it as Julia's by-sex-propelled cousin Holly. Naturally, it takes most of the evening before Holly discovers that Sammy (Matthew Saldivar), the goof-off she has been ignoring, is the right boy for her. Their duet "Caught By Surprise," is a knockout.

The full comic potential of supporting characters is unfortunately not realized. Kevin Cahoon has to rely on his outré get-ups and his one take notice song "George's Prayer" for attention, as the band's gay keyboard player. And Rita Gardner, as a naughty granny, relies on a sight gag involving a double, to get laughs. Cahoon and Gardner do however rap their rap around the audience-pleasing "Move That Thang."

The score, that includes songs from the film written by screenplay writers Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy is bright, infectious, and includes at least one song, "It's Your Wedding Day," that could become a staple. As for imposters, they have been known to do better than the real thing. Take a look and see for yourself.

I noticed that Larry Saltzman is listed among the four guitar players in the excellent orchestra, under the direction of James Sampliner. I'll risk inappropriateness, by concluding that I think my cousin's playing is exemplary.

Some Second Thoughts
Actually, Simon's very comprehensive review covers all bases with no need for second thoughts kibitzing, except to give a special nod to the ensemble's chameleonlike versatility. This show is what it is -- light, loud and lively. I picked the quote from "All About the Green " because this number starring the show's master of the universe Glenn (Richard Blake) not only shows off Chad Beguelin's wit as a lyricist but trenchantly sums up the greed-is-good attitude of this era. The gray business suits and the office wall that turns into giant dollar bills manage to be as colorful as the more garish palette used throughout. And, of the many broad winks via costumes, hairdos and dance styles, my favorite was to seeing Glenn handed his walking shoes by the faux Imelda Marcos. ---Elyse Sommer, May 4, 2006
Music by Matthew Sklar
Book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy
Lyrics by Mr. Beguelin
Based on the New Line Cinema film written by Mr. Herlihy.
Choreographed by Rob Ashford
Directed by John Rando
Cast: Stephen Lynch (Robbie Hart), Laura Benanti (Julia Sullivan), Matthew Saldivar (Sammy), Kevin Cahoon (George), Amy Spanger (Holly), Richard H. Blake (Glen Guglia), Rita Gardner (Rosie), Felicia Finley (Linda) and Adinah Alexander (Angie).
Set Design: Scott Pask
Costume Design: Gregory Gale
Lighting Design: Brian MacDevitt
Sound Design: Peter Hylenski;
Hair Design: David Brian Brown
Makeup: Joe Dulude II
Orchestrations: Irwin Fisch; Incidental & Dance Music Arranger: David Chase
Music director/conductor: James Sampliner
Running time:
Hirschfeld,302 W. 45th Street. (212) 239-6200
2 hours 20 minutes.
Tickets: $56.25 to $101.25
Reviewed by Simon Saltzman based on May 2nd performance
Musical Numbers
Act One
  • It's Your Wedding Day/ Robbie and Company
  • Right on Time / Julia
  • Awesome / Robbie, Julia
  • It's Your Wedding Day (Reprise) /Robbie, Sammy, George
  • Right on Time (Reprise) / Robbie, Rosie
  • A Note From Linda / Linda
  • Pop / Holly, Julia, Angie and Company
  • Somebody Kill Me* / Robbie
  • Rosie's Note / Rosie
  • Come Out of the Dumpster / Julia, Robbie
  • Today You Are a Man / Robbie, Sammy, George
  • George's Prayer / George
  • Not That Kind of Thing / Robbie, Julia and Company
  • Saturday Night in the City/ Holly & Company
Act Two
  • All About the Green / Glen, Robbie and Company
  • Caught by Surprise/ Holly, Sammy
  • Single / Sammy, Robbie, George, Ricky, Bum and Men
  • If I Told You / Robbie, Julia
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