Every so often, a musical made out of a movie comes along and fails to live up to the original product. Such is the case with “The Wedding Singer” a charming Adam Sandler movie that didn’t do well in conversion to a live production, in New York, or on the new stage of Circle Theatre. Tim Herlihy’s movie had the charm of Sandler and the music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Chad Beguelin with the adaptation by Herlihy and Beguelin just doesn’t make it. Kevin Bellie has managed to make this production bearable and there is some strong talent in this weak book. Bellie has adjusted to their new stage, just down the street from their former home in Forest Park to Oak Park – about 6 blocks- at 1010 Madison. This is a much larger theater with much better seating and sight lines and parking is a breeze! Another nice feature of the new location is that Robinson’s Number 1 Ribs is just a block east of the theater. This is the place for bar-b-que in the Chicagoland area, so if you are making the trip to Circle, plan your time accordingly.
For those of you unaware of the film, “The Wedding Singer” is the story of young Robbie Hart, the Aam Sandler role, played with great energy by Eric Lindahl. His own love life goes to pot turning him off on doing weddings. Meanwhile, one of the waitresses at the banquet hall where his group works, Julia ( the delightful Rachel Quinn) is about to marry the wealthy “trader” Glen ( Jim DeSelm plays this character with just the right amount of sleeze) who is a womanizer to the Nth degree, although she has deep feelings for Robbie. This is the 80’s and Bellie’s costumes are very 80’s. The simple set by Bob Knuth allows for the scene changes to move quickly and the lighting by Gary C. Echelmeyer is just right. The wigs allowed the characters in the ensemble to switch back and forth, but may I suggest that if they have another “wig” production they contact George at Fantasy Costumes and mention my name. He will make your show look better.
While the music is not great in this show, Bellie manages to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear with his masterful choreography and direction which makes this production worthwhile to experience.The ensemble members do a great job and there are some outstanding supporting players; the very sexy Kelli LaValle, The very funny Shawn Quinlan, Patti Roeder ( a marvelous Grandma even though “rap” was not really in during this period) and the very sensual Britni Tozzi as Linda and others. The rest of the ensemble, Michael Mejia, Dennis Schnell, Toni Lynice Fountain, Jimmy Lis, Kendel Lester, Melody Latham, Sarah Conrad,Nathan Carroll, Kristen Calvin, Tommy Bullington, Jake Autizen and Tommy Thurston handle all the dance numbers with ease, have nice voices and keep the energy going for the 2 hours and 15 minutes of the production.
There are some clever numbers “Its all About The Green” and ” The casualty of Love” stand out in my mind and the band directed by Carolyn Brady Riley makes the music rock. Some of the actors were body miked, others not, which causes the sound not to be consisten, but Circle works with a limited budget and has given us some top notch shows in the past, so let’s call this one, a “growing pains” production in their new home with new equipment and let it go at that!
“The Wedding Singer” will continue through October 31st with performances as follows:
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m.
Tickets range from $22-$26 , a bargain for live musical theater and can be purchased by calling 1-708-771-0700 or online at www.circle-theatre.org