As President of this hard working group of theatre people, you may expect me to biased in my review. Well, to tell the truth that would be the case if there was anything to critique but yet again BMTG have produced another awesome show.
Let me tell you the story…..
Robbie Hart, a Wedding singer, lives with his Grandma Rosie in Ridgefield, New Jersey. He and his band, Simply Wed, play a great wedding gig. During his usual “warm-up-the-crowd routine,” Robbie proudly announces that he will be married to his beloved fiancée Linda the next day. At the wedding gig, Robbie meets a waitress named Julia Sullivan, who can’t wait to get married to her boyfriend Glen Guglia. Glen is a bad boy who is cheating on Julia left, right and centre and when Robbie sees this he follows his heart and Julia and Glen to Vegas and….. well you’ll have to see the musical to find out what happens!
Taking his first leading role for BMTG as Robbie Hart is Chris Bryan.Chris completely changed his appearance for this role by having his hair, 12 inches of it, lopped off, plus his beard and moustache went as well. Chris is a brilliant singer and he showed off his vocal talents here with wonderful ease with the various genres of music style. Great charisma and stage presence oozing with confidence. What a way to break his duck as a leading man!
Claire Rybicki (Julia) made us love her character and boy did we, if only in our minds, punch the air when Julia’s fiance, Glen got his comeuppance. Lovely singing voice and again a brilliant character role for Claire. A character you wanted to root for.
Robbie’s band members were another pair of character driven roles. Rob Holsman (Sammy) and David Hurt (George). Sammy is one of the lads with an eye for the ladies and also likes to rock out on bass. George is a lovely camp character and a brilliant comedy role. David debuts in this show for BMTG and this role is also his first principal role in three years of musical theatre. You wouldn’t have known this by watching him work the stage, especially the impressive dance routine in the second act. Rob and David were a convincing double act who provided their fair share of the comedy in this musical.
Rob Charles gets the chance to play a slightly different role here as the nasty boyfriend who is treating Julia oh so badly, Glen Guglia. I know that playing nasty comes as a push for Rob (he’s always such a nice guy) so I imagine this role stretched Rob as an actor. Seriously though he does make a believable bad boy. His singing and dancing are spot on and this is another awesome role to add to Rob’s ever growing CV of musical theatre roles. he’s always fun to watch on stage.
Another character who was great fun on stage was Mina Machin as Rosie. Rosie is the kind of Grandma we’d all like. She’s dope and down with the kids and swears, has an open mind when it comes to sex and isn’t afraid to ask those sort of questions that a Granny ain’t supposed to ask of her Grandson. She’s also a great mover and can rap better than Honey G (X Factor for those who don’t know). Mina throws some wicked shapes and spits them bars like a grime rapper on base ( translation: she can dance and rap as good as any of the modern rappers). A lovely energetic performance which will put a smile on your face.
Zoe Brinklow (Holly) pulls another lovely performance out of the bag and gets to air that wonderful singing voice she has. Great confidence and a brilliant character-driven performance as the girl who knows what she wants and ain’t afraid to go out and get it. Abby Riddell (Linda) also has a wonderful role as the woman who breaks Robbie’s heart when she dumps him at the altar and then crawls back into his life, and bedroom. Again a brilliant singing voice with a great rocky feel. Just to prove that, she has to have an electric fan on hand to give her that windswept video affect whenever she sings. Great comic touch for a wonderful character.
A wonderfully talented ensemble supported the rest of the cast. Once more there were some wonderful comic touches by several of the ensemble players. Several such as David Artiss, Ronja Breitkopf, Jenny Chatten, Claire Farrand-Preston, Laura Hanson, Simon Owen and choreographer Craig Butterworth playing several roles.
Talking of choreography, this show is packed with it. Great high energy dance routines which also reflect the dance moves of the 1980’s. No wonder this cast looked tired after performing every show because they all give everything they had with the brilliant dance moves designed by Craig.
And where you have dance, you must have music and under the musical direction of Mr Nathan Truesdale, this show was absolutely buzzing with excitement. A lovely 80’s vibe again took you back to the era of big hair and electric, florescent lycra. A crisp sound and a wonderful soundtrack to the musical. Lisa Smith directed the show and kept the pace up throughout. Assistant director was Beth Yearsley. Brilliant costumes which really brought the era alive for me were provide by The Dressing Up Box UK.
Let’s talk about set baby….
What a wonderful set designed by Craig Butterworth and Garry and Lisa Smith. It was like two sets in one which fitted in and out of the main set, making it easy to move into place and return without taking up too much space or time. Wonderfully designed to make that ease of set change work really well. Lighting was also awesome (sorry it’s the word of the day) and once more a success for Dave Martin. The set and scenes were splashed with colour making this show an absolute feast of colour for the eye.
The stage crew also deserve a mention because they made the whole set change manoeuvre look easy. Believe me they only make it look that way because they work so hard to give that impression. Smooth is how I’d describe what they do. The stage crew are as important as anyone who gets the applause on stage. Rob Corner, Mark Gittens, Alex Grosse, David Henderson, Jacqui Mee and Simon Owen are the unsung heroes.
“The Wedding Singer” will transport you back to the 80’s and will give you plenty to smile about with catchy tunes and the brilliant acting and story, plus you even get a chance to see Tina Turner, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, President Reagan, Imelda Marcos and Madonna on stage in Long Eaton. What you don’t believe me? Well go and see for yourself because it’s on until Saturday 29 October 2016 at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton.