Seacoast Rep Presents THE WEDDING SINGER
When the lights come up for the The Wedding Singer musical at the Seacoast Repertory Theatre, the familiar face of actress Alyssa Dumas will absent. Instead, she will be playing a new role behind the scenes as the director, crafting her vision for the 1980's-themed romantic comedy.
Dumas is one of three "resident artists" hired this year by the Rep for a new program aimed at providing steady employment to promising talent, furthering their artistic development, and bringing the theater closer to its roots as a repertory company. This year's other resident artists are Jason Faria and Andrea Lyons.
Dumas, a Plymouth State University graduate has been a regular performer at the Rep since 2016, when she co-starred in The Marvelous Wonderettes. Her roles have showcased skills including singing, dancing, comedy, drama, and, in last year's Xanadu, roller disco.
"It's an interesting thing when someone tells you're in charge," Dumas said. "It's cool to be a part of so many aspects rather than just performing."
The Wedding Singer opens March 21 at the Rep. The show is based on the 1998 movie starring Adam Sandler. It tells the story of Robbie, a New Jersey wedding singer whose life is shattered when his fiancé dumps him in view of his dim prospects for rock stardom. A friend, Julia, persuades him to sing at her pending wedding to a Wall Street shark, but the two discover their relationship is deeper than they had imagined.
The story, set in 1985, plays out through a Tony-nominated original score written in 1980s pop style by Matthew Sklar, with lyrics by Chad Begueli.
"It's a great story," Dumas said. "It's got its corny, campy moments but the music is awesome. It brings you back to the '80s right away. You can't help but get jazzed when you listen to it."
Dumas said she sought to put her own vision on the production through the image of the ultimate expression of 1980s music - the mixtape. In addition to directing, Dumas also helped design the sets and cast the show. Faria helped with the choreography. Actor-musician Michael Wingate Seavey plays the lead role of Robbie.
"The whole idea of music being Robbie's life and how he expresses himself through music, something that popped up to me was the idea of a mixtape, " Dumas said. "In general you think mixtape, you think '80s. It's just an overall encompassing theme throughout the show to me."
"I wanted this overall theme of how music connects everybody. Whether it's good or bad, or whatever you are going through in your life music is always a staple that we all connect to," she said.
"That's also seen in the set; when Robbie's life falls apart the set itself breaks into pieces." However, she said, "Music gets us through everything; especially for Robbie, he tries to get back on track while still expressing himself through music."
Dumas said she had initially looked forward to appearing on stage for The Wedding Singer.
"It's one of my favorite shows, so I was super excited to audition for it, but then as the audition day got closer and they were trying to decide on directors for the 2019 season, (Interim Artistic Director) Jamie Bradley called me into his office and offered it to me," she said. "I was truly shocked."
One of the big challenges of directing has been realizing she is the one making the final decisions, and one of the rewards is understanding more deeply the breath of factors that go into a successful show.
"Going in as an actor I'm going to think of so much more if I'm auditioning for anything," she said. "There's so much that you don't realize and that you don't know. There is so much work being done at the theater that I don't even think people realize."
Although this is her directing debut, Dumas is confident that audiences will enjoy "The Wedding Singer."
"Everybody is just going to be able to relate to this musical. We've all been these people in relationships, whether it's the one who got broken up with or the one who did the breaking up," she said. "We can all connect to this story line from many, many different standpoints. People will walk in being able to do that, and also to have a good laugh."
The Wedding Singer runs March 21-April 13. Show times are Thursdays at 7:30, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 pm and 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm. Tickets are available through the Seacoast Rep box office at 603-433-4472, or online at www.seacoastrep.org/tickets. For student discounts, call the box office. This show is sponsored by The Portsmouth River House. The Seacoast Repertory Theatre's 2019 season is sponsored in part by Bondgarden Farms, Martingale Wharf, MacEdge, the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel and Key Heating and Air Conditioning.