BWW Review: THE WEDDING SINGER at DESERT STAGES THEATRE Parties Like It's 1986
When you think of a group of young performers doing a musical, most people enter with the assumption of low quality and newbie type talent. This largely stems from the mindset of not believing young folks can put in the same hard work as any other seasoned professional. However, when you take a group of hard-working individuals, like the ones I was given the opportunity to see, and pair them with extremely talented leadership, you find yourself with a recipe for greatness. Desert Stages production of The Wedding Singer is a prime example of why we should hold our young actors to higher expectations and treat them like the professionals they strive to be.
The Wedding Singer, based on the movie starring Adam Sandler, tells the story of Robbie Hart (Bennett Curran), a wedding singer dealing with love struggles that are worse than his songwriting skills. Curran's portrayal of Robbie was genuine although at times a bit angsty, which seemed to make his character come across more personable and relatable. Vocally, Curran's Robbie seemed to flourish more in his belt and higher register. This paired well with Jamie Villareal and her portrayal of Julia Sullivan. Villareal and Curran have great stage chemistry, easily getting the audience to root for their love throughout the story. Between the two of them, Villareal is the stand-out Vocally, without stealing the stage from her counterpart of course.
Other than the main love story between Robbie and Julia, the relationships that surround these two are the things that make this show truly entertaining. Patrick Mullen and Seth Tutnick as Sammy and George made their trio with Robbie the friendship to beat, with Julia and Holly (Phoenix Sage) not far behind. Their connection was natural and felt as if it easily translated to how they were off stage. Allie Rose as Rosie was hilarious, capturing the audience as the grandmother we didn't know we wanted. We the audience stewed in our love/hate relationship with Glen Guglia (Noah Sucato), a fact that may be unfortunate for the actor, but fortunate for us. Although I'm sure it is against his true nature, Sucato pulls off the overly pompous Glen well.
The set, designed by Drake Dole and Ellie Steward, and constructed by Rick Sandifer, was simple perfection. With its functionality and versatility, the team made the world of The Wedding Singer an easy one to follow. As well, Drake Dole's lighting design made for great visuals, although a few places seemed a bit too dim. Sound-wise, there were a few inconsistencies that made some moments come across unclear. However, with a cast maintaining our attention and 80's hits keeping us grooving in our seats, neither of those things were a distraction.
It is typical for groups of mostly high school-aged performers to be seen as amateurs and to place their performance on a learning curve. With a choreographer and Musical Director both Co-Directing to the strengths of this hard-working cast, they shine as bright as any other. Throughout the production, you could see the master, Linzee 4man at work, with quick sharp moves from the ensemble as Mark 4man leads the cast to soar musically. I recommend everyone to come out and experience the talent and hard work exuding from this cast.
The Wedding Singer runs until July 28th at Desert Stages Theatre, located inside Scottsdale Fashion Square: 7014 E. Camelback Rd., Ste. 0586 Scottsdale, AZ 85251. Follow the link for ticket info.