The Wedding Singer | Review
Grand Opera House, Belfast • Tuesday 11 April 2017
By Conor O’Neill
AH, us, the 35 to 45 year olds. Not only have we lived through the fall of the Berlin Wall, India and China targeting the market, two Iraq wars, 9/11, the Good Friday Agreement, the Arab Spring, miners’ strikes, the first coalition government in nearly a hundred years, Farage and Bo Jo’s Brexit, WWIII looming and booming against our shoulders, the rise of the mobile phone, Snapchat, Wikipedia, citizen journalism, genetically modified grub, the NHS in strife, Jeremy Kyle’s assault on the dentally challenged working class, BMXs and mullets, but we also had the trials and tribulations of the 80s – and what could be a better way to spend a night remembering the time we remembered how great the 1980s really were?
Like a Vietnam vet, ‘you weren’t there man’, we wear our scars on our collective sleeves and strut about knowing we were the last generation to live the ‘I’ll see ya when I’m there’ life. 1998’s Hollywood’s hit The Wedding Singer made a global star out of Adam Sandler and now we have the musical. Over 800 people, mostly born in the early to mid-1970s filled the stalls and Gods of Belfast’s Grand Opera House to see Jon Robyns’s lead Robbie Hart get dumped by Tara Verloop’s Linda at the altar and with that the story begins. A wedding singer is not what she wanted and Robbie’s confidence takes a knock.
To rub salt into the wound, his only income is to help others celebrate what he has just lost. A chance meeting with Julia (Cassie Compton), soon to be wed to the sly Glen Gulia – Julia Gulia? – played by Ray Quinn finds Robbie helping her to plan her wedding, and with that the plot thickens. The music runs from Rock n Roll to hip hop from Robbie’s granny (Ruth Madoc) to tender ballads. Each and every one of the cast can sing, dance and everything in between. Monumental in his performance is Samuel Holmes who plays Boy George wanna-be George, though for reasons known only to the production team, we unfortunately don’t get to hear his grin inducing rendition of Culture Club’s ‘Do You Really Want to Hurt Me’. Instead we’re left with a generic version, but George does bring the laughs, of which there were many.
The night had a panto feel. We didn’t actually ‘boo’ when Glen made an appearance with his brick of a mobile and slick yuppie outfit, but you could feel the tension every time he took to the stage. For me, Cassie Compton stole the show. Sugar cube sweet, her lovable and tender demeanour has the audience hanging on her every word and turn. The X-Factor finalist may not have won a record deal but she seems to have found her rightful place on palatial stages such as the GOH. The rest of the star-filled cast give good accounts of themselves too.
Special mention must be made to Mathew Sklar for the music which was ace from start to finish, Chad Beguelin for the lyrics that drive the show forward. Director and choreographer Nick Winston must also be suffering from repetitive strain injury from patting himself on the back. Great wee night out for a certain generation.
For booking details visit www.goh.co.uk or phone the box office on 02890241919. Get yer roller boots on and have a cracking night. The Wedding Singer runs until Saturday 15 April.