Straight off the bat, I had better declare my interest here: while not actually a member of the Southgate-based St Monica Players, I know them very well and help them in some way with nearly every show. In the case of The Wedding Singer, a musical based on the Adam Sandler film of the same name, I’m soon to be related by marriage to half the band. In short, I can’t possibly give an unbiased review of this show.
That said, they’d never forgive me if I didn’t blog about it, so let me leave the gushing reviews to others and tell you a little about working with SMP on this show. (Update: Sardines have now also posted their review.)
The Wedding Singer is a very lively and challenging show. It’s got no plot whatsoever, but somehow you don’t mind, as it’s carried along by a bouncy sense of humour and some marvellous tunes, many of which pastiche well-know tunes from the eighties. (I’m told the real tunes used in the film weren’t feasible to use for the stage show, due to royalties. I have not seen the film, so I can’t tell you whether that’s true or not.)
You might have read that previous paragraph and thought “Challenging? That doesn’t sound too challenging.” If you saw it, it probably didn’t look too challenging either – it looked like good fun, maybe even effortless. However, it’s the most challenging show I’ve ever done with SMP, and I think it would be a big challenge for any amateur group. Like a graceful swan gliding upstream, there was a lot of paddling like the clappers just out of your line of sight.
And being on the backstage side of things, I don’t really get to see as much of the swan-like grace as I’d like to. I mostly see the paddling (sometimes I am even paddling myself).
Others will discuss the excellent singing, acting and choreography. However, I’d like to mention Stage Manager Dave Stoughton, ASM Ian Smith and their team for being the ones making the scenes flow into each other in that apparently effortless way. They deserve a special mention for even attempting the stage effect that makes the Act I finale (and which I will not reveal here). It worked flawlessly every time.
I’d also like to mention Matt Herd’s lighting design. I don’t think I want to know where he managed to get all those lights from on SMP’s budget, but it made the Millfield feel more like Glastonbury*. It looked amazing, and totally disco.
And finally, I’d like to mention Gary Tew on the sound desk, keeping all those wonderful performances audible, which is often more difficult than it sounds.
I love the cast and band, but it’s the crew that made the show for me.
Having said that, I’ve got no videos of the crew in action that would be suitable for a family audience, so let me leave you with this promo the cast did on Enfield Town Bandstand, a couple of weeks ago:
* But without the rain. They’ve mostly fixed the roof at the Millfield now.