Review: ‘Wedding Singer’ hits the right notes

07/30/2014 7:00 AM |
The North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck rehearses this summer’s Youth on Stage musical, “The Wedding Singer.”

The North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck rehearses this summer’s Youth on Stage musical, “The Wedding Singer.”

While this season’s weather may be fickle, one thing we can depend on every summer is a fantastic evening of entertainment from the annual Youth on Stage production at North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck.

This year’s offering, “The Wedding Singer,” is based on the hit 1998 film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore. The musical, written by Tim Herlihy (also the film’s screenwriter) and Chad Beguelin, with music by Matthew Sklar and lyrics by Mr. Beguelin, follows the film pretty closely, with only a few minor changes.

Set in 1985 New Jersey, the plot centers on Robbie Hart, a happily engaged singer in a wedding band who is jilted at the alter by his fiancée, Linda. Julia, a waitress at the venue where Robbie sings, can’t wait to get married to her boyfriend, Glen (who everyone except her seems to know is a creep). Robbie and Julia become friends and, while we know they are destined to be together in the end, it is a circuitous route with misunderstandings, crossed wires and great musical numbers aplenty.

Amanda Mouzakes makes her directorial debut and, as her assistant director, Brett Chizever, did in his own directorial debut this spring with “Into the Woods,” knocks it out of the park. She keeps the action flowing smoothly and guides her large cast about the stage like an old pro.

The cast is superb. John Bradley was effectively slimy as Glen, a greed-glorifying Wall Street suit who is blatant in his cheating on Julia. Sydney Campbell, as Linda, shows off fine wit and timing in her two solo numbers, the first while dumping Robbie and the second while trying to seduce her way back into his heart. Robbie’s feisty grandmother, Rosie, was hilariously portrayed by Christina Stankewicz with senior citizen verve, particularly during “Move That Thang.” Marissa Russo is effectively maternal as Julia’s misguided mom, Angie.

Julia’s friend Holly and Robbie’s bandmate Sammy, who used to date each other, are played by Colleen Kelly and Ryan Zlatniski. Ms. Kelly gives her character a sweet earnestness that softens her notorious “loose morals.” Mr. Zlatniski, with his physical comedy and expressive face, best relays both Sammy’s eagerness to get back together with Holly and his seeming desire to appear the ultimate single guy.

Michael Drozd plays George, the third member of the band. With his Boy George hat and hairdo and glitter, Mr. Drozd imbues his character with more than just the obvious fey stereotype. It’s a fun role and he makes the most of it.

It may seem daunting to tackle roles created by well-known actors, but John Curtis and Lily Filippatos create their own Robbie and Julia with love, expertise and talent. They skillfully convey that particular chemistry of a couple that is falling in love without really knowing it.

I was happy to see two original songs from the film made it into the musical — the hilarious “Somebody Kill Me,” Robbie’s lament after being jilted by Linda, and the darling “Grow Old With You,” the song he ultimately sings for Julia.

The entire ensemble was uniformly talented, energetic and expressive: Danielle Allen, Corinne Araneo, Alex Bradley, Victoria Carroll, Chelsea Chizever, Riley Dobbins, Connor Federico, James Fink, Mally Fogarty, Gayle Gammon, Olivia Geppel, Shauna Huizing, Eric Hughes, Eric Momente, Sophia Parise, Peter Peterson, Wendy Peterson, Matthew Tuthill and Haley Unger.

Choreographer Meagan Schmid arranged the extremely clever and entertaining dance numbers. Kudos to producers Susan Hedges and Cathy Russo, musical director Jacob Boergesson and lighting designers David Scheer and Kimberly Scheer, as well as to Peter Nolan, Mike Meola, Ronald Gillette II, John Curtis, Dan Russo and Bret Hodges for their creative set design and Amy Martinez and Diane Peterson for costuming that evoked the era.

The well-oiled machine of an orchestra, led by Mr. Boergesson, included Shawn Klopfer, Christian Wern, Zachary Branker, Jessica Teresa Sisti and Michael Kelly.

This is yet another Youth on Stage production not to be missed. There are two weekends left to catch this rollicking joyride of a romantic comedy.

‘The Wedding Singer’

North Fork Community Theatre

12700 Old Sound Ave., Mattituck

Performances continue Thursdays through Sundays until Aug. 10. Show times: Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2:30 p.m.

For tickets, call 298-NFCT (6328) or visit nfct.com.

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