Stage review: Go ahead and jump on over to PCLO's 'The Wedding Singer'
July 25, 2015 8:12 AM
Jenna Ushkowitz as Julia and J. Michael Zygo as Robbie take us back to the 1980s in Pittsburgh CLO's "The Wedding Singer," at the Benedum Center through Aug. 2.
"Glee" star Jenna Ushkowitz, left, as Julia and Sandy Rosenberg as Rosie in Pittsburgh CLO's "The Wedding Singer."
Jackie Burns, who appeared for Pittsburgh CLO in "Man of La Mancha" this season, gives new meaning to a white wedding day in "The Wedding Singer."
Pittsburgh CLO's "The Wedding Singer," the musical based on the Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore movie, brings back the moves of the 1980s.
Jenna Ushkowitz as Julia lends a hand to down-in-the-dumps J. Michael Zygo as Robbie in the Pittsburgh CLO production of "The Wedding Singer," at the Benedum Center through Aug. 2.
By Sharon Eberson / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
If you’ve got a hankering for the power of love, 1980s-style, “The Wedding Singer” has your true colors covered and is right here at the Benedum Center, waiting for you. From “Thriller” dance moves to “Where’s the beef?,” the Pittsburgh CLO production has endless love for the decade of Wham!, mullets and $900 CD players.
Along with the high nostalgia quotient, “The Wedding Singer” is a rollicking good time with standout performances at every turn.
“Glee” star Jenna Ushkowitz as sweet-natured Julia and J. Michael Zygo (Broadway’s “Once”) as popular wedding singer Robbie Hart, both PCLO newcomers, are the heart and soul of the musical about love finding a way in the catering halls of New Jersey.
Showcase numbers throw the spotlight onto a standout group of supporting players. Jackie Burns, Kirsten Scott, Greg Kamp, Brandon Espinoza and Sandy Rosenberg, as Robbie’s hilarious grandma Rosie, bring pizazz to a show with lots of heart.
“The Wedding Singer”
Where: Pittsburgh CLO at Benedum Center, Downtown.
When: Through Aug. 2. 8 p.m. Tuesday-Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday; 2 and 7 p.m. Sun. (2 p.m. only Aug. 2).
Tickets: $20-$67.75; pittsburghclo.org or 412-456-6666.
Most at issue is Robbie’s heart, and Julia’s indecision about following hers.
He’s left at the alter by Linda -- Ms. Burns, sexy and sassy in a big David Bowie wig and a dress that gives new meaning to white wedding. She realizes that she fell in love with a heavy metal musician, not the wedding singer who writes her silly love songs. Waitress Julia, meanwhile, is with “greed is good” guy Glen Guglia (yes, if married, she would be Julia Guglia). He’s got money to burn, but is that enough?
Robbie and Julia support each other as he tries to come back from his heartbreak and she struggles with Glen’s character flaws. Robbie is all music, devotion and gritty charm, while Brandon Andrus’ Glen is all money, looks and frat-boy smarm.
Julia’s mother (Susan Cella) and cousin Holly (a perfectly cast Ms. Scott, in more impressively big hair) keep telling Julia to follow the money. But Julia’s heart is telling her otherwise.
You could see where Julia and Robbie were headed, but you rooted for them anyway, even if the chemistry wasn’t there right away at Friday’s performance. It took a kiss to seal the deal.
For a show that rarely stands still, PCLO’s “The Wedding Singer” was already a fluid trip around the dance floor on opening night.
The Matthew Skar score, with clever and often outrageous lyrics by Chad Beguelin, has galvanized director-choreographer Barry Ivan to challenge his cast of more than two dozen, and they respond with the high energy and some nifty moves. Even Mr. Zygo’s response to a punch thrown by Glen, Julia’s cheating fiance, is priceless.
Tim Herlihy adapted his 1998 film, starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore as Robbie and Julia, with some necessary changes from screen to stage. The way he and collaborator Beguelin solve the movie appearance of Billy Idol is particularly inspired.
The show includes a wedding speech in which Robbie strings together familiar song titles about the power of love, but, unlike the film, the songs here are all originals.
The opening number, “It’s Your Wedding Day,” is the bounciest of the bunch, while Ms. Burns’ “A Note From Linda,” Ms. Scott’s part in “Saturday Night in the City” and the over-the-top “Move That Thang,” with George and Rosie pulling out all the stops, are among the big crowd-pleasers. Pittsburgher Scott also pulled off a tribute to “Flashdance” for the hometown crowd.
How perfect that Van Halen -- which gets a shout out in “The Wedding Singer” -- will be rockin’ out in Burgettstown Tuesday. Take a cue from the ‘80s glam band and go ahead and jump or even moon walk over to the Benedum Center for “The Wedding Singer.”
Sharon Eberson: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1960. Twitter: @SEberson_pg.
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