A new musical comedy brimming with 1980s-style pop songs is set to put a smile back on Sydney’s face, as the city emerges from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Wedding Singer, based on the hit 1998 Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore film which was turned into a Broadway musical in 2006, will bring a different vibe to the city’s depleted nightlife when it opens in two weeks time at the State Theatre.
“Everything is dialed up to 11, it’s tight, it’s full of energy and every character pops,” said Christian Charisiou, who plays the show’s lead Robbie Hart, a brokenhearted wedding singer who falls in love again.
“People forget that musicals aren’t always about dramatic senses and this is if you want to have fun and kind of dance along.”
The cast began their tour in Adelaide, before having to cancel their final week in Melbourne due to the latest lockdown, and are now in rehearsals for their Sydney shows.
It’s so great to be able to do our jobs and bring joy back into people’s lives.
Cast member Stephen Mahy, who plays the show’s antagonist, said there was a real elation about being able to perform again to a live audience.
“It’s so nice to see that Sydney theatre is alive again,” he said.
“(You) can just laugh and forget about the pandemic, forget about the financial struggle, forget about what happened at work today… Let’s go back to the ’80s, remember that time we wore double denim and fluro and permed our hair.
“Mikey Ralph’s choreography is probably some of the best choreography you will see, it’s on fire.”
Ralph’s dance moves have been inspired by ’80s icons such as Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson and Madonna and audiences are likely to recognise some iconic moves.
“It’s so great to be able to do our jobs and bring joy back into people’s lives,” said Charisiou.
Following months of unemployment in the arts for the two actors, the musical marks a turning point for the arts and the economy. The producer of the show, David Venn, announced to the cast the show will provide 300 jobs.
Throughout the pandemic, Charisiou explained the arts, “was the first thing to close and the last to open”. There were few jobs for performers and Charisiou said he went back to labouring, while trying to remain as creative as possible.
However, as Mahy put it, the arts are a community of resilient people, “if there’s any bunch of people that can pick up and do a show, the next day, it’s us!”
The NSW government has identified the indispensable nature of the arts to the economy, employees and general society, and the show’s performers say they are grateful to the government for the resources being put into the arts. “The old Sydney might be coming back again,” Mahy said.
He added that The Wedding Singer is a means of rejuvenation for Sydney: “this means that Sydney now is going to be that number one location to come to.”
Charisiou and Mahy said Sydneysiders should use their dine and discover vouchers and “make a hell of a night out of seeing the show”, reminding residents places such as QT bar and Angel Place are in close proximity to the State Theatre, as well as convenient public transport to Market Street.
“We are offering a great escape (for) at least two-and-a-half hours,” Charisiou said.
The Wedding Singer is “an absolute comedy” which is set in 1985. As such, crimped hair, leg warmers and neon are fundamental to the show.
For the last 18 months young and old have done to death streaming services. Every movie, TV show or episode has been watched, rewatched and then watched again but something has been lacking.
“The audience is our scene partner… What you missed is the electricity of human interaction in front of you,” Charisiou said.
“In Sydney things like the arts, theatre and live events are critical to people’s happiness to the economy… It’s all being appreciated so much more because it can be taken away tomorrow”.
The Wedding Singer runs at the State Theatre from July 1-18.
Main image: Christian Charisiou (left) and Stephen Mahy at rehearsals for the show at the Sydney Dance Company. Photo: Monica Attia