By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Making his Uptown debut as Max's dancer-boyfriend Rudy, Andrew Phifer starts out shaky in the early scenes and gets more surefooted as his character starts to break down in the presence of the Gestapo. Stan Graner, Josh Hepola and Clayton Younkin get to strut around in shiny jackboots and throw fake punches as the Nazis. Ted Wold has a nice small role as Max's rich gay uncle, who's off to Amsterdam rather than face arrest for being a "fluff."
Lots of plays lose their edge over time. The great ones don't; they take on more universal meanings the further they get from the events that inspired them. Bent had its place in time by being ahead of its time, and that's more than most plays can claim.
The makers of The Wedding Singer have taken a sweet 95-minute movie rom-com and bloated it up into a 140-minute musical theater flop-bomb. The non-Equity road company is now at the Music Hall at Fair Park, the first of 17 Dallas Summer Musicals to hit town between now and the State Fair in September.
Let's hope none of them are worse than this.
All of the offbeat charm of the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore has been siphoned off to allow room for 18 generically modified musical numbers (by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin) and enough dirty words to make the show unsuitable for kids. (The only two songs that stand out were written for the movie by Sandler and Tim Herlihy.)
It's a cheap-looking production to boot. The scenery by Scott Pask seems designed for much smaller houses, with the top and sides of the Music Hall stage masked off, giving the set the illusion of being small and far, far away.
In the leading role of Robbie Hart, the failed rock musician turned wedding and bar mitzvah crooner, Merritt David Janes is so lackluster he appears to be bored in the show, maybe even slightly embarrassed to be in it. But who wouldn't be, having to sing these lyrics: "Love's a trick, love's a trap/ Love's a hot chick with the clap."
Rare is the musical comedy that gives a nod to gonorrhea.
As Julia, the waitress played in the movie by the luminous blond Barrymore, brunet Erin Elizabeth Coors is flat instead of frothy (come on, had to go there). Coors recently toured in Barbie Live! In Fairytopia, the gayest sounding title of any show ever. Compared to that, The Wedding Singer must feel like La Traviata.
The best turns come from supporting players. Andrea Andert lends a slutty, bendy allure and a big voice to the role of Linda, Robbie's rocker-chick ex who makes one last attempt to win him back. And as Julia's sleazo Wall Street fiancé Glen, Mark Raumaker has a killer dance solo. Why the junk-bond-selling philanderer has a knockout dance number is one of many odd aspects to The Wedding Singer.
Full of more bad 1980s jokes than Celebrity Fit Club on VH1, The Wedding Singer also features a tune called "Come Out of the Dumpster," sung by Julia to Robbie: "So come out of the dumpster/Don't leave me standing here/Come out of the dumpster/It's OK; the coast is clear."
Rare is the musical comedy that gives a nod to industrial waste.