The Wedding Singer November 21, 2009
By Glen Creason
While the comic-musical “The Wedding Singer” that visited Cerritos over the weekend will not make you forget Rogers and Hammerstein it grew on the audience after a slightly awkward beginning and left a lasting, happy impression. The production that gave four performances here was fully decked out in 80’s bliss and there seemed to have been little spared expense in the mounting of this large and colorful show. Based on the popular movie, the play sort of encompasses the oldest comic-melodrama in the book where attached boy meets attached girl but love wins out in the end after attachments are jettisoned. It is a full two hours with a large, youthful cast that gives it all they have got, sometimes a little over the top of what they have got but it is great fun for the most part. The spirited singing and dancing more than made up for a story line pulled out of movie that relied heavily on star power. The story is set in New Jersey, yet few characters seem to actually have a Jersey accent but the straightforward sets and the exceptional costuming really does bring the decade of bad fashion and sometimes unforgettable pop music back into focus. Part of the fun is the use of celebrity look-alikes so if you remember the 80’s (as did the majority of the crowd except for a baby in the orchestra) you might find it delightful to see Billy Idol, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Cyndy Lauper, Imelda Marcos, a fully-blown Tina Turner, Mr. T. and sort of Boy George and Michael Jackson in the mix.
Again, the music is not all classic show-stoppers but there were some tunes you might put on the Ipod including the bittersweet “Not That Kind of Thing,” the danceables “Someday” and “Casualty of Love” along with the surprisingly poignant Adam Sandler tune “Grow Old With You.” The large scale dance numbers were a genuine hoot and provided the best moments of the show, particularly the “Thriller-video-like” “Casualty of Love” and the layered and lively “All About the Green” which gave energy to the second half that continued to the finish. The were also some very good performances throughout and with J. Michael Zygo as the protagonist Robbie and Jillian Zygo as the female lead Julia they brought their real life chemistry as husband and wife to the stage, making the romance palpable. All of their singing was polished and professional. April Monte played the saucy friend Holly with a sort of smart but skanky turn that made her light up the stage and Linda as the sexpot ex-fiancé was sensational in both of her memorable dance numbers. Band mates Sammy and George played by Adam Clough and Ben Martin were very good after finding their legs early in the show but Ellen Karsten as the grandma Rosie just stole the show every time she appeared.
There is a lot of good stuff in “the Wedding Singer” but it truly is a an ensemble piece which shines its brightest when the stage is full of the slightly eccentric characters interacting as in the delightful penultimate scene in the White House Chapel in Las Vegas.