THE WEDDING SINGER
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Review: 'The Wedding Singer' at Gateway Playhouse
An '80s flashback
You want to go back to simpler, more solvent times? If it's the '80s that come to mind, well, fuggedaboutit. Adam Sandler's 1998 film "The Wedding Singer" painted the 1980s as a dopey, freewheeling and free-spending decade reflected in vapid lyrics and flashy pop stars. The 2006 Broadway musical, which closed on New Year's Eve of the same year after 285 performances, was, perhaps, ahead of its retro time.
As directed by Keith Andrews, Gateway Playhouse's Long Island premiere of "The Wedding Singer" takes us - in a twist on a hit movie title of the era - back to the present. The bad guy in this romantic mini-epic is a Wall Street trader who deals not in "junk bonds," he says, but "high-tech debt instruments." Meanwhile, our hero flies first class to Vegas on a borrowed credit card issued to a barely employed rock-star wannabe. It's a subprime world with banks raking it in on the purchasing decisions of airheads.
Surely that was not the intent of creators of either the movie or the musical "Wedding Singer." But thanks to the show's dim view of Wall Street traders, the timing of Gateway's revival lends this pop-tart whimsy a glancing gravitas it never expected, much less intended.
The title character, Robbie, played like a doofus with heart by Greg LoBuono, sublimates his lead-singer ambitions by leading a band that plays weddings.
The next gig is his own.
But Robbie is stood up at the altar by Linda (wickedly trashy as played by Jacqueline Colmer). Offering condolences are bandmates, strummed by John Rochette and Brian Golub, disciples of Van Halen and Boy George, respectively, as well as the girl-next-door waitress Julia (Noel Molinelli), her slutty cousin (played by Antoinette Dipietropolo) and Robbie's let-it-all-hang-out granny (Tina Johnson).
Most so-called witticisms are winks at the '80s. But we're pretty sure the Wall Street slickster (Michael Minarik) engaged to Julia will fall after he predicts that Starbucks is a loser. ("No one's gonna pay three bucks for a cup of coffee.")
From that point, if not before, we know how this love story is going to turn out. But the '80s impersonators along the way, and a rocking band led by Andrew Austin, put us in a good mood. Sorta like the free drinks and party vibe at a wedding that's not ours.
WHAT Long Island premiere of "The Wedding Singer," by Tim Herlihy, Chad Beguelin and Matthew Sklar
WHEN | WHERE Through Oct. 4 at Gateway Playhouse, 215 South Country Rd., Bellport
INFO $39-$45, 631-286-1133, gatewayplay house.com
Gateway's final performance of the season offers laughs and nostalgia
Crimp and tease your hair, put on
your Converse hi-tops, and your Billy
Idol T-shirt 'cause the '80s have
returned to Bellport! The Gateway
Playhouse's final play of the summer
season, The Wedding Singer, pays
tribute to the music and styles (yes,
even Aqua Net) of the 1980s. Based on
the 1999 movie starring Adam Sandler,
The Wedding Singer delivers wit,
style, and laughs.
The musical opens with "It's Your Wedding Day", an energetic number that introduces Robbie Hart and his band while they are at a wedding in New Jersey in 1985. We are then introduced to Julia and her wild cousin Holly, who work as waitresses at the catering hall. Julia and Robbie meet and begin their friendship, but both are involved with other people. After Robbie is left at the altar by his promiscuous fiancée Linda, and Julia gets engaged to her boyfriend, Glen, feelings develop between the two and progress throughout the musical. Although Robbie is well on his way to getting over Linda, she comes back in the picture! Will Robbie end up with Linda, or will he end up with Julia? Watch the musical and find out.
The cast is filled with many talented actors. Cincinnati native Greg LoBuono plays Robbie Hart, the Van Halen-obsessed wedding singer, to a T. LoBuono has starred in many national tours, including Grease and Starlight Express, as well as Gateway productions. Noel Molinelli, who plays Julia, has been a Gateway regular and played Sissy in Urban Cowboy last season. The James Madison grad was also in School of Rock and was in a ShopRite commercial. Her portrayal of sweet, realistic Julia Sullivan surpasses Drew Barrymore's film performance.
Highlights of the show include a moment in "Saturday Night in the City", where Antoinette Dipietropolo's Holly sits on a chair and pulls a chain, and water gushes over her, a la Flashdance. Another highlight is "Move that Thang", where Robbie's grandmother Rose (played by Tina Johnson) and Boy George look-alike band mate George (played by Brian Golub) rap together at Rose's 50th anniversary party. References to the 1980s are frequent and hilarious, from the synthesizer and electric guitar-heavy score, to the costumes, to the references to Reaganomics, The A-Team, and shopping mall kitsch. These references definitely add to the charm and atmosphere of the show and make it all the more enjoyable.
All in all, The Wedding Singer should not be missed. It's quirky, funny, and performed by an energetic cast-perfect for a first date or a fifteenth date.
The Wedding Singer runs at the Gateway Playhouse until Oct. 4. Tickets can be ordered by calling 1-888- 4TIXNOW, or visiting www.gatewayplayhouse. com.