Review: THE WEDDING SINGER at Crown Uptown

The production closed 8/7/22

By: Aug. 12, 2022
Review: THE WEDDING SINGER at Crown Uptown

The Wedding Singer made its Regional Debut at the Crown Uptown in July. It's super fun, high energy musical based on the hit Adam Sandler movie, with music by Matthew Sklar (Elf, The Prom), book by Chad Beguelin (Aladdin, Elf, The Prom) and Tim Herlihy (Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore), and lyrics by Chad Beguelin. The Wedding Singer's score is rife with 80's pop references, which made me ponder the question, "From which actual hits were the show's songs derived?"

The plot is super simple. It's 1985, and Robbie Hart is the front man of New Jersey's favorite wedding band. Ironically, his fiancée leaves him at the altar, and consequently, Robbie finds himself torpedoing every wedding gig they play. Then he meets Julia, a sweetheart of a waitress who wins his affection. Unfortunately for Robbie, Julia is about to be married to a Gordon Gekko wannabe, and needs to find a clever way to win Julia over.

From the high energy opening to energetic big ending, the show was a complete romp. The band and the vocals sounded fantastic, as usual, thanks to the solid musical direction of Andrew Bowers. Claire Gerig's second directorial assignment at the Crown was stand up. Set Design by Kate Smeltzer was simple, and came to life in a clever collaboration with Lighting Designer Arthur Reese; an abstract drop with a simple color change denoting location. The choreography by Simeon Rawls was very angular, with lots of high kicks, bifurcate lines, and incredible leg extensions. One of my favorite numbers, the Gordon Gekko greed is good homage, All About the Green, featured a wonderful neutral color pallete of costumes by Emily Guitner, and Ryan Schafer's signature leap off a high platform! Julia Faust's well executed wigs accurately reflected the 80's, from high fashion new wave to big hair looks.

There were lots of great performances! Austin Ragusin (WSU) did a beautiful job as Robbie Hart, with his smooth tenor and abundant energy. Arissa Claire Brown (OCU) was perfectly cast as Julia, with her lyrically bright soprano and appealing characterization. Ragusin & Brown's duets were well done, especially the classic 80s ballad If I Told You. Ryan Schafer sounded strong and flexed his excellent comic chops as the classic corporate 80s Yuppie, Glen, Julia's boyfriend. Sarah Wine delivers laughs and nails the Jersey accent as the well-meaning Aunt Angie from New Jersey.

Shannon McMillan turned in a tough and torrid portrayal of Linda, the gal who stood Robbie up at the altar. McMillan gave off a Lita Ford/Madonna vibe, and I though, holy cow, why was Austin's character dating her? Obviously she was way too much for him to handle. Maybe he was her boy toy?! McMillan's searing rendition of Let Me Come Home was top notch. Briley Meek gave a super fun performance as Robbie's loveable but promiscuous waitress friend Holly. Her vocals were strong and she looked awesome in the BEST 80s look of the night, a jean jacket and bright pink skirt combo, in Not That Kind Of Thing/Saturday Night in the City.

Character actress Liz Jarmer stole the show as Grandma. Her song Note From Grandma was perfection. Jarmer's got great comedic timing, and in the rap number, Move That Thang, her duet with Levon Mathis, who plays the band's keyboardist George, was unexpected and playful. The contrast between Mathis' flamboyant delivery and Jarmer's old school granny was perfect. Shout out to Jackson Dorris, who played the guy in the red hat in Single, a definite 80s Boy Band tribute.

Up next at the Crown Uptown? Calendar Girls, which runs August 26-September 18. Friday and Saturday shows are at 8:00 PM, Sunday matinees are at 2:00 PM. Tickets can be purchased either with dinner or without. Adult tickets range from $40-45 for dinner & show; $25-30 for show only. Student Tickets are only $10 for Show Only. Senior and military discounts are available. Tickets can be ordered at or by calling the box office at 316-612-7696.