★★ | The Wedding Singer, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre
Robbie Hart is a popular wedding singer who has his belief in love shattered when he is jilted at the alter by his fiancé. But as he has promised to sing at the wedding of affable waitress Julia to her sleazy, materialistic boyfriend, Glenn, he spends his time helping her prepare for her big day. But amongst the gift registry and dress shopping, the two of them slowly fall for each other, and as Julia’s big day approaches, will they both find the courage to tell each other how they feel?
This 80’s set musical is based on the film of the same name and is packed with a full list of original songs, a smattering of ensemble pieces and a rapping granny. In terms of the cast, Ray Quinn (The X-Factor) stood head and shoulders amongst the performers, with a good performance as Glenn, whilst Cassie Compton (The X-Factor) and UK Eurovision singer Lucie Jones provided competent support and, to their credit, some superb singing.
But aside from a handful of good performances, sadly, the whole thing just simply didn’t hang together. The onslaught of songs became intrusive to the progression of the narrative, the clunky and cumbersome set changes interrupted the flow and the show overall fell somewhere between lacklustre and dull. Add into that an incredibly cringe worthy seduction scene between Robbie and his ex-fiancé, a significant lack of chemistry between the two leads and some borderline offensive stereotypes of gay men which felt more like ridicule than parody and you have a rather disappointing production.
But where the show really lets itself down is in its lack of an 80’s feel, especially given that the decade is ripe for the picking in terms of its cultural identity. Part of the charm of the film that the show is based on is its nods to the decade, from the fashions to the music; something that is noticeably missing from this show. It takes more than a randomly placed Rubiks Cube, a Sony Walkman and a reference to the size of a mobile phone to set the 80’s scene. But the biggest omission is that the original songs didn’t have even a tinge of 80’s synth pop to them and were so generic that, on the whole, they could have come from any musical set in any decade; whilst the costumes missed the opportunity to fully exploit the decade that fashion forgot.
The show did finally come alive during the last scene and the curtain call, but it was far too little far too late, and couldn’t avoid the show receiving a rather muted reception from the generally unimpressed audience.
The Wedding Singer is currently playing at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until Saturday 22nd July 2017
In between visits to the theatre, watching films, photography, walking, scuba diving and singing (badly); Paul writes for TheGayUK.