Friday, 1 November 2019

AMATEUR THEATRE REVIEW: The Wedding Singer - The Festival Theatre, Hyde. Greater Manchester.

PAP Productions Limited is the established vehicle of three creatives : Paul Lawton, Amy Lawton and Paul Wilson since 2014 whose cumulative talent is the company’s production and directorial team whose manifesto is to produce high quality, amateur theatre for the enjoyment of the public . Any monies made are reinvested to raise production values for next year’s more ambitious show.

Based on a movie starring Adam Sandler as the lead, the story is set in 1985 and a New Jersey wedding singer gets jilted at the alter by his own fiancée and wreaks revenge and deals with his angst by wreaking havoc at the weddings he consequently sings at . He meets a newly engaged waitress engaged to a Wall Street jerk. The Wedding Singer, Robbie played with charisma by Nick Ward realises he has feelings for the waitress, Julia ( Kate Shaw), and his new focus is on getting the girl before she marries Glen (Sam Maurice) a prat of the highest order.

PAP are blessed with a young, enthusiastic, versatile and talented cast and ensemble who filled the stage with energy and style in the big wedding party scenes, interacting well and adding to the action and scene-setting.

Robbie’s 3-piece band Sammy (Liam Bunka and John Dean) are terrific foils to Robbie’s pathos. Particularly, show-stealing Dean’s ‘ Boy George-esque’ cameo as keyboard player and artiste who stole the Jewish Bar Mitzvah scene with his flamboyant, hilariously camp, hammy turn.

The book itself is a little flimsy and doesn’t have enough substance to truly enthral with its plot but what it lacks in plot it makes up for with its entertainment value which the cast delivered in abundance, a show which oozed high quality vocal performances, great choreography and well executed moves by a cast who had been clearly directed.

The object of Robbie’s affection, the naive Julia (Kate Shaw) had a lovely presence and a playful charisma with a beautiful singing voice which worked in excellent counterpoint to Bethany Heywood’s conniving cousin and (slightly slutty) fellow waitress Holly. Heywood, never failing to deliver, gave a soaring end to act one with her ‘Saturday Night’ Rock-chick number. That girl is dynamite and a joy to watch.

Robbie’s grandma, a feisty octogenarian was the comedy highlight of the first act with her vibrating bed and pointed questioning of her grandson on the night before his  jilted ) nuptials. The grandma Rosie played with great fun and physical energy by Kat Bond made good business of a cameo which had the audience in stitches in her leotard/ aerobics combo and her ditty to the jilting bride, Linda.

Some sensitive direction from director Paul Wilson and he really exposed Nick Ward and Kate Shaw’s tenderness in the later scenes as Robbie tries to sabotage her ill-fated Vegas wedding to the awful Glen! The Vegas wedding scene was hilariously funny with the fake superstars in attendance. Such great attention to costuming. Taking us all back to the '80s with the big hair, shell-suits, neon and plastic beads and seriously dodgy fashion sense. Every performer had a very well thought out costuming plot which they’d accessorised to the max. Holly’s outfits particularly were out of this world.

The femme fatale, Linda (Annabelle Taylor) who jilts Robbie; returns in act two to make a failed attempt to win him back by seducing him whilst drunk. Her exotic dancing and lithe moves were amazing. She lacked a little vocally but more than made up with it with a stunningly unselfconscious performance of sluttiness which most performers would shudder away from. Really well done!

Finally, the villain, two-timing Wall Street wannabe tycoon, Glen. The one we loved to hate who as deserved got his comeuppance. Sam Maurice oozed like slime with his cocky, self-assured, self-importance like a tub of grease. A real performance of note with some excellent vocals to match. He looked and acted the part perfectly.

A really enjoyable, light-hearted love story with a real, feel-good vibe which the audience throroughly enjoyed. Visually flawless and vocally excellent but a slightly thin storyline which slowed the action at times. PAP Productions yet again produced a quality piece of amateur theatre with the most abundantly energetic cast in the North West.

Reviewer - Kathryn Gorton 
on - 31/10/19

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