Here’s to the class of 1985, which happens to be the year I graduated high school as well as the chronological setting for Adam Sandler’s iconic 80’s film The Wedding Singer. In 2006 this SNL alum’s story was adapted for the Broadway stage with music by Matthew Skalr, Lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and book by Tim Herlihy. The show received a Tony nomination for best musical in 2007 and has enjoyed success in local and international productions.
One of those productions occurred this past weekend at Flowery Branch High School in Hall County directed by the FBHS theater program’s Rane Tipton. Tipton is a Flowery Branch graduate and Gainesville Theatre Alliance alumni. She is best known on stage for her outstanding performance as Tracy Turnblad in GTA’s Hairspray in 2012, but for the past two years she has been directing the Flowery Branch theater program in one phenomenal show after another. Wedding Singer is the most recent phenomenon.
This is the story of Robbie Hart, played by Will Venson. Robbie is New Jersey’s most popular wedding singer. He’s in love with love and can’t wait to get married himself. When he’s jilted by his fiance at the altar, he spirals into despair, but eventually finds love again while helping his new found friend plan her own pending nuptials. This musical includes all our favorite characters from the Sandler film while adding some twists as well. One such twist is Robbie living in his Grandma’s as opposed to his sister’s basement. The character of Grandma, played by Abby Hand, adds a bedazzled and well played quirkiness to the story. This musical is adorned with countless 80s references and 21 musical numbers including a show stopping first act finale, “Saturday Night in the City”, that pays homage to Flashdance with an unforgettable ‘Water Scene’.
If I were to sum this production up in one word it would be HILARIOUS!! Not only was I transported back in time, I laughed out loud until my eyes watered. The vocals and dancing in this performance were spectacular to boot. The abstract set which resembled steel scaffolding lent itself to the versatile settings including a wedding venue, city street, and night club with quick scene changes which allowed transitions to flow smoothly.
Key-noteworthy performances included the very talented Will Vinson as Robbie Hart (look for him as he graduates and moves on to Gainesville Theater Alliance in the fall); Merrick Couch as Robbie’s best friend and sidekick Sammie–loved the zebra pants and mullet haircut complete with Mike Reno bandana; Maddie Compton as Robbie’s new friend Julia, who brought to the character a very natural acting style and sweet soprano sound; Halle MacPherson as Julia’s Madonna wannabe friend, Holly, who brings down the house with her Flashdance water scene; Emily Ashmead as Linda, Robbie’s ex-fiance and hair band groupie, who nailed her rendition of “A Note From Linda” (Emily will also be joining GTA in the fall); and last but not least the extremely versatile and always comically entertaining ensemble member Seth Herron as Groom at First Wedding, Guy with Weird Hair, Akward Tweenager at Bar Mitzvah, Drunk at the Bar, Fake Ronald Reagan, and many more. Congrats to the whole cast and crew for a job well done.
Thank you, Flowery Branch, for a nostalgic and amusing trip back in time. If you didn’t get a chance to see Wedding Singer, be sure and follow Speakeysie on Facebook and Instagram so you don’t miss out on any more great North Georgia theater!
–Jody Key — Managing Editor