It’s encouraging that in these post-holiday weeks there’s now locally produced live entertainment on stage. It’s doubly encouraging when that entertainment delivers giant servings of fun and laughs.
We’re talking about the fast-paced musical comedy “The Wedding Singer” at Musical Theatre Southwest’s Black Box Performance Space.
It’s based on the 2006 Broadway version of the 1998 film of the same name that starred Adam Sandler as wedding singer Robbie Hart. Most of this production’s score originated with the stage show.
The show and the film share the same story. Robbie’s girlfriend, Linda, stands him up at the altar. Linda leaves him a note: “You should have been in MÃ¶tley CrÃ¼e/or David Lee Roth’s replacement/But instead you sing while people chew/And you live in your grandma’s basement.”
Getting dumped sends Robbie into a funk. He sees himself a loser like the Sideburns Lady, the Nerd and the Large Lady who appear in a scene with him. They sing “Casualty of Love”: “I put a top hat on my cat and I asked him to the prom/ I was stood up by my date and by date I mean my mom/ Each night I open my mouth and give those Twinkies a shove…”
Robbie pulls himself out of his depression and decides, for the moment, he needs to make piles of money working on Wall Street for Glen, the boyfriend of Julia, a waitress. But Glen cheats, romantically and financially. Besides, does Julia want her married name to be Julia Guglia? Julia and Robbie inexorably move from like to love.
The production has a lot going for it: Logan Mitchell as Robbie and Devon Frieder as Julia are an ideal fit vocally and dramatically as the leads. Mitchell stepped into his role late but didn’t miss a beat in learning lines and handling quick costume and scene changes. (Frieder is also director, choreographer and producer.)
The supporting cast did its job. Gus Spencer’s Sammy and Bryan Daniels’ George are Robbie’s wise-cracking band mates who command attention though they’re usually standing at the back of the stage. Spencer and Daniels were brilliant singing “Today You Are a Man,” a spoof of stereotypical bar mitzvah parties.
Ensemble members had multiple roles. Jonte Culpepper was noteworthy for his athleticism as a dancer and managing five characters – Groom, Mookie, Loser Guy, Ricky and Mr. T – that demanded silly hair pieces, a Mohawk and rubbery facial expressions. Memorable were Rikki Carroll as Grandma Rosie, Derrick Medrano as fake Billy Idol, Stephen Armijo as father of the Bride, Maymie Mitchell as Donatella, and Alexandra McCrary as fake Tina Turner. Erik Joshua Clark’s Glen and Kir Kipness’ Linda are characters you love to hate. Amy Burgen’s Holly is a bubbly foil for Julia.
— This article appeared on page F3 of the Albuquerque Journal