The Wedding Singer is bright, fresh: HCT produces live musical remake of the movie

Hale Centre Theatre is currently running its production of THE WEDDING SINGER, a Broadway musical based on the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler.

From the moment the multilevel, revolving Plexiglas stage lights up from beneath the floorboards, an energetic cast keeps the energy moving and doesn’t stop until the final bows during which they are surrounded by at least 20 disco balls. None of the performers give in or go halfway, especially Bryan Matthew Hague, who stars as Robbie Hart in the Tuesday- Thursday-Saturday cast. Hague has particularly large shoes to fill for audiences who are familiar with the film; he manages to retain the humor of some of Sandler’s comic moments while creating his own unique character for the audience to love. Ali Bennett, who stars opposite Hague, gives a sweet and quirky performance as Julia Sullivan.

The supporting cast also carries a lot of the momentum, such as the standout rock vocals by Ashley LaRue Grant in the role of Linda, Robbie’s ex-girlfriend. Cory Stephens also plays an eccentric sidekick as George, a member of Robbie’s band. There are times when it seems the supporting characters are about to steal the show, which actually helps spice up a potentially boring plot for audience members who have seen the movie and know how it ends. It’s a refreshing new musical for a young generation and those who appreciate some variation from the movie.

Cast members work hard to keep up with the vibrant and creative choreography designed by Jennifer Hill-Barlow, a 2010 Best of State winner. Barlow weaves in 80s dances like the Roger Rabbit and Cabbage Patch and pays homage to music videos “Thriller” and “Flash Dance.” The songs and script are loaded with references to the decade, and the prop and set designer have paid attention to creating the look and feel of the era. HCT always likes to throw in surprises, and the water that showers down from the ceiling in the dance club scene drew some gasps and ‘ahhhs’ from the audience.

THE WEDDING SINGER musical book is written by the original 1998 film screenwriters, Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy, with original music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Beguelin. Two songs written for the film by Adam Sandler and Tim Herlihy are also part of the production. The musical received five Tony Award nominations, including Best Musical, during its 2006 run on Broadway and had two national tours in 2008 and 2010.

For a summer treat that will leave you smiling, “The Wedding Singer” is worth the ticket.
HCT’s “The Wedding Singer” is directed by David Neiman and choreographed by Barlow with musical direction by Kelly DeHaan. Other credits include costume designer, Leslie Warwood; prop master and set designer, Kacey Udy; lighting designer, Spencer Brown; and technical director and sound designer, Dan Morgan.

Performances are Monday through Saturday at 7:30 p.m. with matinées each Saturday at 12:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. and occasional weekdays at 4 p.m. Ticket prices for Monday through Thursday evenings and matinees are $22 per adult and $15 per child (5-11 years); for Friday and Saturday evening shows tickets are $26 per adult and $16 per child (5-11 years). Tickets may be purchased online at www.halecentretheatre.org, via telephone at (801) 984-9000 or at the Hale Centre Theatre box office at 3333 South Decker Lake Drive, West Valley City, Utah.

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