BWW Review: THE WEDDING SINGER, King's Theatre, Edinburgh
The musical adaption of the 1998 hit romantic comedy film The Wedding Singer premiered on Broadway in 2006, followed by a first UK tour in 2008.
Set in 1985, it tells the story of New Jersey wedding singer and rock star wannabe, Robbie Hart (Jon Robyns), who is the life of the party until his own fiancée Linda leaves him at the altar. Enter Julia (Cassie Compton), a winsome waitress who wins his affection; however Julia is about to be married to Wall Street shark Glen Gulia (Ray Quinn). Can Robbie stop the girl of his dreams being lost forever?
The Wedding Singer has not yet had a run in London's West End, but it would be a welcome addition in the future. Whilst it could perhaps be accused of being somewhat formulaic, it contains two key ingredients that allows it to rise well above mediocrity: clever, at times unpredictable comedy (the timely appearance of a myriad of Vegas impersonators produces a strong finish) and, perhaps most importantly, an excellent original score.
The vigorous opening number, "It's Your Wedding Day", has to be one of the catchiest songs written for a musical in recent years, and composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin provide the audience with a rich collection of musical treats throughout, whilst staying loyal to the 1980s theme. "Someday", "Come Out of the Dumpster", "Saturday Night in the City", "Right in Front of your Eyes", "If I Told You" and the moving final number, "Grow Old With You", all provide memorable melodies.
Whilst on a few occasions this production lacks the vitality of the Broadway version, especially in parts of the ensemble, it proves to be more effective than the previous UK tour, and this is predominantly due to the principals. It is delight to see a touring production perfectly cast with two established, first-class West End musical theatre actors. Jon Robyns and Cassie Compton shine throughout, and are a perfect match both vocally and as the pair who slowly but surely fall for each other, with the audience willing them on.
Ray Quinn gives a suitable performance as the villain of the piece, and this production's secret weapon is veteran Ruth Madoc as Robbie's Grandma Rosie, who, despite her comparatively small role, certainly makes the most of it and gains one of the loudest applauses of the evening with her acrobatic skills.
With an increasing tendency for musicals to depend on an existing back catalogue of songs, The Wedding Singer is a breath of fresh air, and it's good to see a touring production of such a high standard.