Reviewed by Joseph Michael Mishler
Fenton Village Players is presenting a classic tale of romance in the musical The Wedding Singer featuring lyrics and script by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy and music by Matthew Sklar. This is an ambitious musical with a fairly large cast.
In the title role, Carl Mizell plays Robbie Hart who is cruising along singing about love at weddings. He is also in love until, on his wedding day, the love of his life dumps him. His life is in a tailspin until he meets a waitress, but there’s a catch as she is engaged to a rather slick Wall Street guy. The road to Paradise is filled with obstacles and advice. Each erstwhile lover is presented with opportunities, but someone always throws a wrench into the process. Whether or not they can become a couple is the struggle of this age-old story.
Musicals are difficult to produce with so many elements to weave together. Dancing, singing, acting, and music come to mind, just to mention a few.
This FVP production of The Wedding Singer is interesting but inconsistent in places. At the performance I attended, the small parts stole the show. Kudos to Steve Shelton, Carla Feamster, Jonathan Smith, and other cast members who played multiple bit parts, for giving us a lot of laughs. They brought energy and excitement to the stage. At the end of the performance we watched as Steve Shelton portrayed Ronald Reagan, and Taleena Williams portrayed Imelda Marcos, along with a couple of other celebrity imposters. They were precious, all of which made me want a little more from the leads.
Mizell’s performance was good, but a few times he didn’t quite get there with some songs. Overall he was believable. The other band members, Sammy (Michael Poehner) and George (Jesse Soelbert) also gave notable performances. Soelbert’s song and dance with Grandma Rosie (Debbie Moulton Starnes) was a hoot and would have been better if she’d had a microphone.
Linda (Natalie Sevick), Robbie’s heartthrob who dumped him, gave a good performance. Holly (Holly Myers) performed well. Her singing and dancing were energetic and right on the mark. Julia (Gretchen Coles) was convincing as the main love interest, and Glen (Steve Visser) was believable as that sleazy Wall Street guy who got what he deserved in the end.
You’ll have to see the show to find out if Robbie and Julia ever do become a couple.
The set was plain and futuristic, and well used by the performers. They used the set pieces effectively and the lighting was well done. The major problem was sound. It was difficult to hear Grandma Rosie every time she was on stage. Several other singers could also have used a microphone. I also wondered why they didn’t make more effective use of the bed. There were times during the performance when it appeared as though the dancing and singing by the company was a tad off.
With that said, I enjoyed the show. My compliments to the production crew: Laura Legant – Producer, Rick Spangler – Artistic Director, Kevin Starnes – Musical Director, Sam DiVita – Choreographer. It is tough to pull a musical together.
If you are looking for some fun entertainment, The Wedding Singer continues with performances March 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17, 23, 24, 2013. Thursday-Saturday performances are at 7 pm, and Sunday Matinees are at 2 pm. Performances are held at the Fenton Village Playhouse, 14197 Torrey Rd, Fenton MI, 48430-0531, 810-750-7700. Tickets can also be purchased at The UPS Store, 17195 Silver Parkway, Fenton, 810-750-2920; Fenton Winery and Brewery, 1545 N. Leroy, Fenton, 810-373-4194; or Image Projections, 11470 Torrey Rd., Fenton, 810-629-0700.