The Wedding Singer – Bristol Hippodrome and Touring

The Wedding Singer - John Robyns as Robbie with Company (c) Darren Bell

The Wedding Singer at Bristol Hippodrome and Touring. Picture: Darren Bell

The Wedding Singer continues at the Bristol Hippodrome until 18 March and then tours until 7 October.

Star rating: three stars ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩

It may be a while before we see La La Land as a stage musical, especially after the shenanigans at the Oscars, but there is no let up in Hollywood hit films switching to the boards. The latest is the Adam Sandler 1990s satire The Wedding Singer, boasting a largely new retro-style score from Matthew Sklar, with lyrics by Chad Beguelin.

It is no surprise to discover that this is pretty corny fare, resulting in a musical that has plenty of heart but does little to enhance female emancipation.

West End regular Jon Robyns brings impressive singing and dancing prowess to the title role (aka Robbie), and is rarely offstage as he bids to survive the ignominy (in light of his profession) of being dumped at the alter by his fiancée Linda (a raunchy Tara Verloop).

The narrative remains pretty close to the film, as Robbie then falls for waitress Julia, appealingly played in girl-next-door mode by Cassie Compton.

In turn, she is in danger of marrying slimy banker Glen, as promiscuous with his women as he is with his money. Here former X Factor runner-up Ray Quinn brings a much-needed sharper edge to the songbook, with his Act II paean of praise to the dollar – ‘All About the Green’ – carrying particular resonance in the age of a billionaire American President and his mega-rich Cabinet.

Mostly, though, the atmosphere is strictly 1980s, from the video settings to the grand finale reuniting the lovers, courtesy of a clutch of Las Vegas impersonators ranging from Billy Idol (who played himself in the original film) to Tina Turner, Mr. T, and Ronald and Nancy Reagan (don’t ask!).

The feel-good factor in Nick Winston’s production is propelled along by a bright and breezy cast.

Roxanne Pallett, who has come a long way since her Emmerdale days, brings large helpings of good cheer, decorated with a sprinkling or two of common sesnse, as Julia’s best friend Holly.

There is also a larger-than-life performance from Ruth Madoc as the singer’s feisty grandmother, while Samuel Holmes is as camp as they come as Robbie’s band mate George, enhancing the reputation he made at the Hippodrome this Christmas with an outstanding Dandini in Torvill and Dean’s Cinderella. Among the dance routines, the Michael Jackson-themed ‘Casualty of Love’ catches the eye.

Musical director George Dyer and his seven-piece band mostly avoid the trap of drowning the lyrics, and on the whole this eight-month tour should register a raft of happy memories of the time when ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’.

Jeremy Brien


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