Reviewed by Catherine Brown
The Good Companions Stage Society are celebrating their 60th year with an exceptional production of ‘The Wedding Singer’ currently showing at Derby Theatre. Based on the film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, this stage version directed by Phil Simcox retains the key elements of the story, while cleverly incorporating music inspired by pop songs of the 1980s.
Robbie Hart (Tom Banks) is a rock-star wannabe from New Jersey, in demand as a ‘life of the party’ wedding singer in the group ‘Simply Wed’. The remaining band members are Sammy (Sam Ward) who sports a large perm and George (Martin Counter) who makes no attempt to hide his sexuality behind his eye make-up and innuendo. After Robbie is jilted at the alter by his fiancé Linda, he becomes a casualty of love. Robbie’s heartbreak causes him to ruin every subsequent wedding he attends, despite the attempts of waitress friend Julia (Rachel Clines) to cheer him up. Her caring nature and naivety about her Wall Street banker fiancé Glen (Dale Hind) means the audience are willing them to get together.
Eventually Robbie realises that love is right in front of his eyes and misguidedly tries to model himself Glen. The return of his ex, Linda, plus confusion when Robbie sees Julia preparing for her own wedding, mean that things don’t run smoothly for them both. It takes Robbie’s Grandma Rosie to convince him that things are never too late, plus the help of some hilarious Vegas characters including Mr T and Dolly Parton to try to stop Julia marrying the wrong person.
The talented Good Companions cast keep up the energy and humour throughout the show with lots of super vocal performances. Particular praise should go to the wardrobe department who provide an amazing array of costumes from neon legwarmers to puffball bridesmaid dresses. The choreography was also fantastic with lots of nods to 80s dance routines such as Michael Jackson’s Thriller and a super recreation of traditional dancing at a bar mitzvah. The 70 minute first half flew by quickly and I found myself laughing frequently at the characters and innuendo in the shorter 2nd half.
Derby Theatre, previously Derby Playhouse, re-opened in 2009 under the ownership of Derby University. It has a 535 seat auditorium with comfy seats and excellent views of the stage wherever you sit. Located just off the city ring road, parking is available at the INTU shopping centre with a bargain evening rate of £2.50. The staff at the theatre were very welcoming and there were a good selection of drinks and snacks available at the bar which we were able to be pre-order for the interval.
I would give ‘The Wedding Singer’ a 5/5 rating – The Good Companions put on a wonderful performance and I look forward to seeing more of their future work.
Tickets cost from £15 (booking fees may apply).
The Wedding Singer is at Derby Theatre from 5-9 November 2019, for more information or book tickets visit www.derbytheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01332 593939.
Derby Theatre, 15 Theatre Walk, St Peter’s Quarter, Derby, DE1 2NF | 01332 593939