Review: Despite faulty original story, YPAS successfully adapts “Wedding Singer”

Carolyn Brown

YPAS’s recent production of “The Wedding Singer,” directed by Ms. Georgette Kleier, was a high-quality production despite an unfortunately predictable and contrived story.

“The Wedding Singer,” originally a Broadway play, is based on the Adam Sandler movie of the same name. Knowing this in advance, I was hesitant to go to a play that I assumed might keep the Sandleresque feel. Thankfully, Sean Sullivan’s (12) performance of Robbie Hart had all of Sandler’s lovesick passion and none of his annoying sense of comedy.

The Wedding Singer is YPAS’s annual “big play,” and big it was. The large choreography numbers, especially in “Saturday Night in the City,” used multiple levels of the stage – rafters, platforms, etc. Impressive. As many as twenty or thirty students made up the ever-present dance ensemble, who played greedy investors, awkward wedding guests, or clubbers as necessary.

Normally, one would think it bad for a show to break the audience’s suspension of disbelief, but this performance did so in a way that came across as wit rather than bursting our bubble. Stagehands held a bouquet of flowers on a stick to help a bride “throw” them at her wedding and carried a Styrofoam airplane on a stick to show that two characters were in flight.

Unfortunately for YPAS (and through no fault of its own), “The Wedding Singer” is a highly predictable story. Within 15 minutes, it was laid upon rather heavily that the two leads would end up together eventually. There’s a Good Guy, a Good Girl, and a Snobby Husband; what other option is there?

However, the surprising talents of Manual students counteracted the predictability of the story. We knew that Robbie and Julia were going to get together, but we didn’t know how well our actors could act it.

Like The Circadian Rhythm, “Wedding Singer” played on surprises — surprising talent for the former and a surprising cast for the latter. Administrators and teachers played celebrity impersonators: Mr. Darrell Farmer (Assistant Principal), Ms. Alexis Rich (Science), Mr. Jason Seber (Orchestra), and Ms. Nicole Finley (English) played Mr. T, Imelda Marcos, Ronald Reagan, and Tina Turner, respectively.

The set, as usual, was stunning; the D&P students established the 80s setting believably. Characters’ clothes and hair, naturally, were god-awful – but appropriate to the time period. One character’s bedroom wall is decorated with pictures of hunky celebrities; Robbie’s has a KISS poster and a ratty t-shirt. The only fault I saw in the technical elements of the play was that, at the performance I went to, Jordan Adams’s microphone occasionally didn’t work.

However, the script had a few too many self-referential Eighties jokes: “No one will ever pay three dollars for a cup of coffee!” “New Coke? That’s a brilliant idea! Invest in Coca-Cola immediately!” What? How can you have a phone in your car?” Maybe it’s because I have no 80s to be nostalgic for, but I feel like this play was made for a limited audience — and that audience was most definitely not high schoolers.

Likewise, one of the story’s main characters is George, a flamboyantly gay band member based on Eighties singer Boy George. Now, I thought it was good that the story had a gay main character, but it used him for the chance to make a number of predictable and unoriginal gay jokes. Three different times in the story, someone would comment about “getting chicks,” and George would shake his head with a “Not for me, sweetie.”

However, all in all, YPAS put on an enjoyable show. I wish it hadn’t ended as soon as it did, but all the actors, dancers, and musicians have put in enough effort to have deserved a much-needed respite.

Carolyn is a senior in HSU at duPont Manual High School and a staff writer for ManualRedEye.