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John Yap

Review: THE WEDDING SINGER at Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre

The Wedding Singer - London THE WEDDING SINGER The Musical finally makes it to London 14 years after its Broadway reception. London’s reception is in the rather out of the way Troubadour Theatre in Wembley Park.

As in all Wedding receptions, dancing is the requisite ritual, so this production is infused with lots of energetic and imaginative dancing.

Matthew Sklar (Music) and Chad Beguelin (Lyrics) based their Musical on the very successful movie of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. Unlike the movie, the Musical only enjoyed a modest run of 284 performances on Broadway. Since then the team of Sklar and Beguelin have found greater success on Broadway with their latest Musical THE PROM. Tim Herlihy who wrote the movie’s screenplay, also wrote the Book for the Musical.

The current trend in Musicals is to have heavy loud, pounding, rhythmic music and lots of group dancing. This production is no exception. Almost every song develops into extended group dancing.

It is not surprising that the lead role of Robbie Hart is played by Kevin Clifton, who is a world class professional dancer best known for his dancing contributions to BBC’s STRICTLY COME DANCING. Clifton is perfectly good with his acting and singing and he moves like a professional dancer. Rhiannon Chesterman plays Julia Sullivan sweetly and sings with a pleasant voice.

It’s all Directed and Choreographed by Nick Winston employing exaggerated movements often breaking into dance steps. As a result, there is no natural credible characters amongst the cast. There is virtually no relationship or dramatic developments. That does not matter because in this production, dancing takes precedent over drama. The Choreography is certainly spirited, epic and imaginative.

There is no doubt that for those who like a lot of dancing in Musicals, they will find much to enjoy in this production. The story is clichéd in which “boy meets girl, boy looses girl and boy gets girl”.

The score as presented on Broadway was admired for its clever pastiche of the ‘80s sound and it received Tony nominations for the Musical, book and the score amongst others. To accommodate the excessive dancing, this production rescored all the songs with heavy, loud, pounding rhythms that are clearly rooted contemporaneously. This rescoring completely changes the nature, essence and identity of the original Musical. Perhaps it should be retitled THE WEDDING DANCER.

For those who like lots of dancing in their Musicals, the trip to Wembley Park will be thoroughly rewarding.

The Wedding Singer