News Column

Stage musical set in 1980s is altar ego of Sandler movie

July 11, 2013

YellowBrix

July 11--Love in the 1980s is the focus of The Wedding Singer. The Broadway musical, adapted from the 1998 film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, will be produced by Columbus Children's Theatre beginning tonight in the Park Street Theatre.

"It's a love story about a guy who gets dumped, goes into the depths of depression and finds true love in an unlikely place," director William Goldsmith said.

"It's great fun, basically the Adam Sandler movie onstage with a flashback to the iconic '80s -- including a fake Mr. T and a fake Ronald Reagan."

Choreographer Dionysia Williams researched 1980s movies to incorporate favorite dance steps of the era, such as Churnin' Butter and the Monster, from Michael Jackson's Thriller video.

Columbus Children's Theatre's annual Summer Pre-professional Company production, performed by 16- to 22-year-olds, is suggested for those age 13 and older.

"It's the only show we do that's not geared for families -- with the humor pushing the edge, adult references, some profanity," said Goldsmith, artistic director of the troupe.

Author-lyricist Chad Beguelin, author Tim Herlihy and composer Matthew Sklar adapted the two-act musical -- which ran for eight months on Broadway in 2006 and received Tony nominations for best musical, book and score -- from the film written by Herlihy.

Set in 1985 in New Jersey, the story revolves around Robbie Hart, who dreams of becoming a rock star but instead has become New Jersey's favorite wedding singer. He's the life of the party -- until his fiancee leaves him at the altar.

Thomas Miller, 22, plays Robbie.

"Robbie is this sweet, sensitive guy who's found joy in bringing people together and performing at weddings and helping people find love," Miller said.

The lead role requires the ability to play the guitar. Miller does so on three songs: Awesome, Grow Old With You and Somebody Kill Me.

Miller, who has played the electric bass guitar for eight years, picked up an acoustic guitar and started learning to play two years ago.

"Some strings are the same, so the notes are similar," he said, "but, with bass, you generally play only one or two strings at a time. With a guitar, you have to play chords and think of all the notes."

Candice Kight, 19, plays Julia Sullivan, a waitress at the wedding-banquet hall who initially is engaged to Glen, a tough Wall Street broker.

"She's really sweet and down to earth, something of an idealist and definitely a romantic, so she's willing to forgive a lot," Kight said.

Kight first saw and fell in love with the movie when she was 8.

"I was obsessed with '80s music as a kid," she said.

"You have that big, bombastic guitar; the cool drum licks; the synthesizer all working together. While this is not a jukebox musical, it's in the same vein because all the songs feel like 1980s hits -- upbeat and fun."

Kight's first song is Someday, in which Julia fantasizes about her wedding day while working at someone else's wedding.

Miller and Kight also sing Not That Kind of Thing, an upbeat pop song about Robbie and Julia bickering at a wedding salon over which items to register for Julia's wedding.

"A store clerk notices them bickering and assumes they're a couple, but they explain in the song that they're just friends," Miller said.

"But there's a connection that they have, and the song reveals toward the end that they do have feelings for each other."

mgrossberg@dispatch.com

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(c)2013 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

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