The Wedding Singer at Silhouette Stages in Columbia is brighter than a bouquet, sweeter than cake, and more fun than flinging rice.
Fans of The Wedding Singer may insist that Rom-Com plus the Eighties is a Love Shack full of Shiny Happy People So Emotional they Jump into Sweet Dreams of a White Wedding. They may be right.
The 1998 movie The Wedding Singer, written by Tim Herlihy, entered collective consciousness when Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore co-starred in the popular rom-com. It grossed $123 million; unsurprisingly, it was refitted as a stage musical in 2006, enjoying an eight-month Broadway run.
Featuring music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and book by Beguelin and Tim Herlihy, the show garnered multiple Tony nominations for the team behind The Prom and Elf The Musical. Sklar and Beuelin excel at peppy music and quirky lyrics that are fun, and frequently funny.
The show appears to have devotees, as the audience seems a third Gen Xers, another third Boomers, and, surprisingly, the rest are young people—Gen Z and younger, presumably the same age as most of the cast, wearing side ponytails, hair bows, mullets, and wristbands. Several groups occupy VIP seating—decorated “wedding tables” at the front of the venue’s seating area.
Since the movie was originally developed by Sandler and director Frank Coraci as an ’80s retro piece, The Wedding Singer demands either actual nostalgia or anemoia (a term describing feeling nostalgia for a time in which you’ve never lived) to assure proper enjoyment. Those without attachment to the ’80s may find the show lacks resonance. Conceptually, it’s similar to Grease, which celebrated the ethos of the ’50s in the 1970s. A gap of 13 years is insufficient time to be able to tell what will hold up as iconic and what will become inexplicable to anyone who didn’t live during the enshrined period, so the script contains cultural quips that are funny for about half the audience.
Silhouette Stages President Jeremy Goldman steps into the role of director for The Wedding Singer at Slayton House in Columbia. He describes in an interview with Theatrebloom’s Mandy Gunther explaining certain references in the show to the cast, largely too young to recall the ’80s firsthand.
This production has aspirations. It has 21 cast members, significant choreography, frequent costume changes, an extravagance of set pieces—in addition to the bones of the script, which is already a lot. In two acts, there are 20 scenes and 27 songs—19 original and 8 reprises. None of the New Wave pop hits featured in the movie appear in the stage musical.
Stage Manager Tyler Hart and Assistant Stage Manager Molly Laska along with the run crew have quite a challenge, as Set Designer Ryan Geiger creates 13 unique sets for 20 scenes. I admire the ambition and attention to detail, including set dressing touches by Jessie Krupkin. In execution, however, some sets are wobbly, and, despite the participation of the cast, clearing them and setting up the next one breaks the momentum of the show and extends the duration of the performance.
The fascinating dance numbers by Choreographer Jeremy A. McShan are complicated, fancy, entertainingly accurate, and mostly executed well. Standout performances by featured dancers Brandon Goldman and Julia Williams are a treat to watch, as is Debbie Mobley as Rosie in her featured number “Move That Thang.”
Despite a pre-recorded musical track, Vocal Music Director Emily L. Sergo achieves an enviable ensemble clarity, some very sweet harmonies, and auditory interestingness even for the most forgettable and plot-irrelevant of songs. Each vocalist is easy to understand, except when they’re hard to hear. There are moments of harsh feedback, happily between scenes rather than during numbers.
Makeup Designer Parker Bailey Steven paints the actors exceedingly well. From Sam’s Alice Cooper eyeliner to George’s full face, each character has signature details representing a rainbow of ’80s glam looks. Crucial to the aesthetic is ’80s hair, and Wig Designer Tommy Malek delivers with Stray Cat pompadours, KISS kinky curls, Tina Turner shags, and Cyndi Lauper blowouts. Looking at costumes designed by Deana Cruz-Conner is equally fun; they display classic ’80s shapes drenched in supersaturated color, with that iconic combination of close-fitting and extra puffy.
The large cast boasts plenty of regional experience and a few BFAs. Their enthusiasm and talent are unquestionable. Though the stage sometimes looks overpacked, it’s a gleeful chaos. Xander Conte as wedding singer Robbie Hart is energetic and emotional. His likeability includes a smidgin of smarm and ample awkwardness. As leading lady Julia, Maddie Bohrer displays hopefulness and vulnerability. Together they have excellent chemistry and their duets are charming, particularly in “Come Out of the Dumpster.” Seth Fallon as keyboardist George practically steals the opening scene with prancing, head-tossing Human League energy. He and bassist Sammy, played by Henry Cyr, are hilarious in “Today You’re a Man.”
There’s a lot to like in this show. Will The Wedding Singer musical achieve the iconic perpetuity of Grease? Time will tell. The script presumes a certain age bracket; as one who falls within that bracket, I enjoy the comedy and corny charm. Silhouette’s production of The Wedding Singer invites you to step away from your slew of screens into a world in which MTV featured music videos, big hair was better, and eyeliner went all the way around, to root for some earnest characters in search of everlasting love. Really, who doesn’t want that?
Running Time: Two hours and 45 minutes, with one 15-minute intermission.
The Wedding Singer plays through April 2, 2023 (Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 3 PM), presented by Silhouette Stages performing at Slayton House in the Wilde Lake Village Center, 10400 Cross Fox Lane, Columbia, MD. To purchase tickets $20–$30 for adults), visit Silhouette’s online box office. For additional information, call 410-216-4499 or email [email protected]
COVID Safety: Masks are encouraged but not required. Further specifics about COVID precautions are available here.
The Wedding Singer
Music by Matthew Sklar
Book by Chad Beguelin & Tim Herlihy
Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Based on the New Line Cinema film written by Tim Herlihy
Directed by Jeremy Goldman
Robbie Hart – Xander Conte
Julia – Maddie Bohrer
Sammy – Henry Cyr
George – Seth Fallon
Holly – Bailey Wolf
Glen – Chris Riehl
Rosie – Debbie Mobley
Linda – Megan Mostow
Angie – Beth Cohen
Father of the Bride Track – Dean Davis
Mookie Track – Nick Thompson
Donny Track – Johnny Dunkerly
Crystal Track – Rowena Winkler
Tiffany Track – Tricia Anderson
Cindy Track – Julia L. Williams
Nancy Track – Erin Brenigan
Ensemble: Adanya Elizabeth, Brandon Goldman, Patrick Gray, Devin Holsey, Geraden Ward
Director – Jeremy Goldman
Music Director – Emily L. Sergo
Choreographer – Jeremy A. McShan
Stage Manager – Tyler Hart
Assistant Stage Manager – Molly Laska
Set Designer – Ryan Geiger
Properties and Scenic Dresser – Jessie Krupkin
Lighting Designer – Thomas P. Gardner
Sound Designer – Ethan Hogarty
Costume Designer – Deana Cruz-Conner
Makeup Designer – Parker Steven
Wig Designer – Tommy Malek
Intimacy Choreographer – Lauren Lowell
Production Photographer – Ana Johns
Producer – Ande Kolp