MusicalNorth WestReview

The Wedding Singer – Empire Theatre, Liverpool

Music: Matthew Sklar

Book & Lyrics: Chad Beguelin

Book: Tim Herlihy

Director: Nick Winston

Reviewer: John Roberts

Based on the 1997 comedy film of the same name starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore; Matthew Sklar, Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy’s musical adaptation of The Wedding Singer provides plenty of earworms and laughs throughout in a production that is sadly given a rather lacklustre outing and fails to even stand up to recent competition that the large Liverpool based venue has seen.

Nick Winston, who is best known as an award-winning choreographer, certainly injects energy into his large ensemble numbers, however, it seems that more of a focus should have been on the direction than choreography. Uneven accents hinder the cast throughout and rather than rounded heartfelt characterisations, many of the cast’s portrayals fall into broad-stroke clichés that mean sadly, we, the audience don’t feel any real connection for the protagonists – we just don’t care what happens to them.

In the central role of Robbie Hart, Jon Robyns certainly tries a little too hard and earnestly to gain approval in the role, he sings the part well, but isn’t a natural comedian which the role really requires from its leading man, likewise, the usually excellent Cassie Compton as love interest Julia again sings the part wonderfully but lacks that punch that should be powering the role – is this a case of tour fatigue? Possibly, but it’s certainly a fault that many productions especially after coming from smaller venues just don’t get right when opening at the Empire.

Stephanie Clift who is currently playing Holly, the role recently departed by Roxanne Pallett gives a great performance, full of energy and really comes into her own in the end of act one number Saturday Night in the City. Mark Pearce in a variety of roles sees the actor steal the scene at almost every opportunity – his sports-loving drunk pitched perfectly. However, it is down to local boy Ray Quinn to take the limelight. Showing just how much of a triple threat he really is in the role of Glen Gulia, Quinn embodies the role of the lascivious money loving 80s power hungry stock exchange worker with panache.

Francis O’Connor’s set and costume designs certainly look and feel cheap – often running into issues throughout the show’s 2.5 hour running time, while one certainly understands the massive costs of touring a number 1 production – you do have to look carefully and be more creative in creating a design that fits multiple venues… sadly upon the Empire Theatre’s massive stage, it looks empty and lacking. Ben Harrison’s sound design is uneven especially in the first act, which at times leaves you mishearing lyrics and giving you the feeling of being 70 foot under water – this does (thankfully) improve considerably in the second half. But on the technical side of the show, Ben Cracknell’s stunning lighting design makes an impact at every possible opportunity

The Wedding Singer is certainly an enjoyable musical but it’s distinctly average in its execution.

Runs until 3 June, 2017 | Image: Contributed

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Distinctly Average

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The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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