YOU’D WANT TO HIRE THIS WEDDING SINGER FOR YOUR NEXT WEDDING, BAY AREA MUSICALS WINTER PARTY
IS A LOVE LETTER TO EVERYTHING 80’S
The party to check out this winter is the on going Wedding in SF Mission district. The 80’s comes alive in Bay Area Musicals’ THE WEDDING SINGER now on stage through March 17th at The Victoria Theatre with Music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and book by Beguelin and Herlihy. “Here’s to the 80’s” says BAMs Founder and Director Matthew McCoy “The 80’s ignite so much nostalgia, so many happy feelings, and the excitement of coming into better time after the troubles of the 70’s. The 80’s were about consumerism, expansion, new beginnings, music, and we see that mirrored here in THE WEDDING SINGER.” McCoy has assembled a sizzling cast of 22 talented Bay Area actors who bring this Wedding to a classic night filled with 80’s nostalgia.
The Party opens with the rousing “It’s Your Wedding Day” featuring the main cast and the on stage band, including the lead singer Robbie Hart and his two right hand men - George on keyboards and Sammy on bass. Played by the marvelous Zac Schuman, the camp glam Matt Ono and the adoring Max Thorne.
The story follows wedding band singer Robbie, who is in love with love, at least until his fiancé breaks things off with him. Schuman brings some comic sadness in his solo “Somebody Kill Me” as he loses his will to be a Wedding Singer. He takes the first steps to recovering from his heartbreak with the help of a reception-hall waitress he works with, Julia, who sings “Someday” as she thinks about her fiance. Played by Jenny Angell, she sings like an angel and brings a quest for new love but unfortunately, she’s engaged to the rich, sleazy yuppie Glen Guglia played by the dapper local favorite Jepoy Ramos who always puts her second, but who can comfortably provide for her. Julia starts to question whether her connection with Glen is as meaningful as she thought. Musical comedy antics ensue.
Photo's by Ben Krantz Studios
It's refreshing to see a musical that doesn't just cobble together well known songs from the 80's and THE WEDDING SINGER has really exciting original music. The company production numbers “It’s Your Wedding Day”, “Today You Are a Man”, and "Not That Kind of Thing” is a fantastic first act highlight as the energy in those are contagious and will be stuck in your head for days. Leslie Waggoner’s choreography is filled with witty references to dances of the 1980s, from iconic Jazzercise and beyond, and works as the cast is always kept moving at a high fast pace. She cleverly brings the pop back to the 80’s with her energetic dance moves especially in the upbeat song and dance number “Pop” featuring Alissa Sanchez, Jenny Angell, and Dana Lewenthal as Holly, Julia, and Angie.
As Robbie’s disenchantment is revealed in the song “Casualty of Love”, Schuman proves his romantic voice shines in the role. Soon his broken heart is given hope and revived by Julia in “Come Out of The Dumpster”, and it becomes clear that nobody is with the people they’re really supposed to be and the rest of the action deals with our hero building up the guts to tell our girl his true feelings.
A simple love story we have seen so many times, yet this company keeps it new and fresh and at a high level. Angell and Schuman exhibit stand out on-stage chemistry as evident in the adorable "Grow Old With You" and sets the bar for this superb production.
Sanchez as the stimulating Holly ends the first act in a nightclub go-go box singing “Saturday Night In The City” with the company, striking a suggestive pose on a chair, and yanking a chain that thoroughly douses her with water a la Flashdance. Her act two song “Right In Front of Your Eyes” with Sammy is a sharp 80’s pop dream sequence that showcases Sanchez’s exceptional voice.
The electric “All About The Green” opens the second act and features Ramos’ stellar villainous voice which convinces Schuman to join in along with the company. Robbie’s ex-girlfriend Linda played by the entertaining Kaylyn Dowd tries to win him back in the song “Let Me Come Home”, where she shows off her perfect comedic timing and powerful voice. Rounding out the leads is the hilarious Donna Turner as Rosie, Robbie's grandmother, who steals the 2nd act with her show stopping granny rap “Move That Thang” with Matt Ono.
The production features a terrific ensemble including the exemplary Sean McGrory who plays a number of convincing roles, along with the elegant dance captain Patrick Brewer, the polished Michael Cai, the sharp Julio Chavez, the sizzling Carlos Guerrero, the outstanding Joey Alvarado, the sassy Maddie Larson, the charming Pauli Amornkul, and the capable Alicia Von Kugelgen.
The set by director McCoy, appears deceptively simple at first glance, but hiding behind those rows of lights and giant disco balls are some really sharp set pieces, from the wedding venue’s back-alley dumpster to the vibrating bed Grandma loves. The set design does limit the amount of space the actors have to work in, but McCoy’s direction makes good and full use of it specially the side wings and that upper set where the band is stationed.
Props by Clay David include all the best of wedding needs since the story features about four different weddings including a Bar Mitzvah. David brings in an awe-inspiring wedding cake and all the fixings, along with red ropes, tables full of flowers and wedding charm, glasses, still cameras, flowers to toss, plenty of hairspray cans and the swank model Airplane.
The on-stage live band under the direction of Jon Gallo with Adam Hughes on Guitar, Kyle Wong on Bass, and Eric Lawson on Drums, is hard rocking perfection. Handsomely costumed by Brooke Jennings, they were very much part of the party in this two-hour show.
Costume designer Jennings produced an impressive array of what seemed like over a hundred costumes since each of the four weddings needed a different look for the company, including a few Wedding dresses and those crazy 80’s boots. The number of quick changes that takes place make the costumes all the more impressive with the help of Wardrobe Master Richard Gutierrez.
The hair and wigs, styled by Jackie Dennis, are perfect to top off each cast member, deliberately completing each look of high volume of 80’s pop. Max Thorne’s mop of hair is the most noticeable of the 80’s wigs, along with the Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, and Elvis impersonators played so well by the accomplished Kamren Mahaney, the quirky Liz Marsh, the grand Loreigna Sinclair, and the hysterical Scott Dilorenzo. Stage manager Cat Knight and assistant Stage Manager Genevieve Pabon, have to work with a fast pace show moving their 22 actors and wedding parties on and off stage like magic.
Eric Johnson’s lighting design makes beautiful use of color as the show opens with a disco ball filling the Victoria Theatre. It sets the party mood during for the company dance numbers and it does the same as Robbie stands outside Julia’s window during “If I Told You,” the cool color of moonlight washes over him while she stands in the warmth of light on her. The footlights around the main set are also splendid, their use of the titular color during “All About the Green,” along with the use of space. The sound design by Anton Hedman includes hand mics to get that disco feel during the many Wedding scenes, and the mix with the live rock band is tight and clear.
With fantastic performances, sizzling choreography, and a catchy score THE WEDDING SINGER is the ultimate of the feel-good musical. This celebration of big hair and big love takes a bit to hit its stride with some of the lines in the opening scenes feeling rushed yet it’s still got a whole lot going for it. It might not be the most remarkable musical, as it’s eternally beholden to the movie, however, it gives you warm fuzzies for a couple of hours, and sometimes that’s everything you could want or need. Its recipe of romance, silliness, and keen design elements make this musical comedy a winter must see. Next up at BAM is Disney's THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME that opens July 7th. But in the meantime you don’t need a Wedding invite to see THE WEDDING SINGER - tickets are selling fast.
BAY AREA MUSICAS PRESENTS
The Wedding Singer
Music by Matthew Sklar
Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Book by Chad Beguelin, and Tim Herlihy
Noted songs by Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler
Directed by Matthew McCoy
Choreography by Leslie Waggoner
Musical Direction by Jon Gallo
2961 16TH STREET
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94103
Run time Two hours and a 15 minute intermission
Photo’s by Ben Krantz Studio
Zac Schuman, Jenny Angell, Jepoy Ramos, Alissa Sanchez, Max Thorne, Matt Ono, Kaylyn Dowd, Donna Turner, Dana Lewenthal, Joey Alvarado, Alicia von Kugelgen, Scott Dilorenzo, Sean McGrory, Kamren Mahaney, Carlos Guerrero, Patrick Brewer, Michael Cai, Julio Chavez, Liz Marsh, Maddie Larson, Loreigna Sinclair,
and Pauli Amornkul
Matthew McCoy, Director, Leslie Waggoner, Choreographer, Jon Gallo, Musical Director
Cat Knight, Stage Manager, Geneviėve Pabón, Assnt. Stage Manager, Matthew McCoy, Set Designer, Brooke Jennings, Costume Designer, Eric Johnson, Lighting Designer
Anton Hedman, Sound Designer, Clay David, Prop Designer, Jackie Dennis, Wigs
Bryan Atarama, Sound Board Op, Richard Gutierrez, Wardrobe Master