The audience let their hair down but kept their masks firmly on for the premiere of the musical The Wedding Singer in Sydney this week applauding throughout the high-energy show.
After twice having the Sydney run cancelled due to lockdowns, the cast performed out of their skins to deliver a fun, hilarious, and entertaining party just as the posters had promised.
The State Theatre was almost sold out for the ’80s-themed musical and as the audience milled around ordering drinks, grabbing popcorn and buying merchandise they bopped along to Whitney Houston and Madonna hits.
The story centres on life of the party Robbie Hart, New Jersey’s number one wedding singer and a dyed-in-the-wool optimist. That is until his fiancé ditches him on their wedding day and his life spirals into misery, creating a comic contrast with his occupation.
Though based on the popular Adam Sandler film of the same name, the stage version of The Wedding Singer comes with a full score of original songs and dance routines.
The musical opened with blasting lights, synth music, dancing and neon flamboyance, making the audience feel they had well and truly landed in the ’80s.
Leading man Christian Charisiou appeared center stage with his guitar and sang the opening number with charisma and magnetism. His character Robbie Hart is a multifaceted personality and experiences a range of emotions throughout the story. Charisiou delivered on each count, playing the hopeless romantic in love with his fiance and made the audience chuckle with his smitten behaviour.
His heartbroken performance received roars of laughter during the numbers Somebody Kill Me and Casualty of Love.
Charisiou also won the audience’s affection in the endearing moments he portrayed as he fell in love again with Julia, capturing the quirkiness and simplicity of Robbie. Charisiou is a talented performer, in acting, singing and dance and led the show with style and capability.
Teagan Wouters encapsulated the innocence and somewhat cheekiness of Julia. Wouters channeled aspects of Drew Barrymore from the original film in her acting and had the audience in the palm of her hand with her sweet mannerisms and energy. Her vocals shone particularly in numbers like Someday and If I Told You. Her voice echoed throughout the State Theatre, with the audience silenced and captured by her performance.
Charisiou and Wouters had incredible chemistry and displayed this through a number of duets, Come Out of the Dumpster, Not That Kind of Thing, If I Told You and Grow Old With You.
Nadia Komazec, as Holly, generated laughter every time she uttered a line. But, she was no one-dimensional performer and did not disappoint when she belted out solo singing numbers such as Right in Front of Your Eyes. Komazec concluded the first half of the show with such gusto in her performance of Saturday Night In the City that not a single person would have considered leaving in the intermission.
Stephen Mahy, who plays the villain Glen, opened the second half with All About the Green.
Other notable performances came fromHaydan Hawkins (Sammy), Ed Deganos (George), Susan-ann Walker (Rosie) and Kirby Burgess (Linda).
Declan O’Neil (lighting designer) and Greg Ginger (sound designer) excelled in the scene transitions, particularly at the end of Casualty of Love, when the entire bridal party attack Robbie, and the lighting, shadows and police sirens tell the story of the melee.
Choreographer Michael Ralph produced a tireless routine of constant movement, where even during set changes small clusters of ensemble dancers would fill the transition with dances in dazzling routines like ’80s spin classes.
Costume Designer Kim Bishop stayed true to the ’80s with neon colors, wide pants and fishnet gloves (which were being sold at the merchandise stand).
The sets from Nathan Weyers ranged from a brightly lit bar, wedding venus and pop poster-lined bedrooms.
The Wedding Singer marks a well-received and welcome return of musicals to Sydney and sets the tone for a hopefully pandemic-lite theatrical year to come.
The Wedding Singer is playing at The State Theatre in Market Street, Sydney, until January 30.