After seeing The Wedding Singer at Leeds Grand Theatre last month, Rhiannon-Skye Boden tells us what she thought and what it’s really like to be a journalist in the arts.
Going to the theatre is always exciting, but there’s something about going on press night that makes it even sweeter. I mean, is there any better feeling than showing your press pass at the door and gliding past the queues? Of course not – it’s part of why most of us got into journalism in the first place, right? This time, I’d had the pleasure of being invited to review The Wedding Singer at Leeds Grand Theatre, a fun musical romp based on the movie of the same name. I was excited to see how the not-exactly-critically-acclaimed Adam Sandler rom-com would fare on the stage, but before curtain up we were swept into the Wilson Berett Bar for a little pre-show press party.
‘dripping with camp and more 80s pop culture references than you could shake a delorean at’
Other journalists grouped around tables and sipped on complimentary wine and orange juice, pouring over programmes and waiting for tickets to be delivered. When they arrived, they arrived in the hands of a delightfully bubbly PR co-ordinator who excitedly chatted about the show – we found out who was available for interviews, who had had a run of photoshoots that day and the other projects she was juggling at the time. Everyone swapped details and publication stories and then, as 7:30pm inched closer, it was time to take our seats.
As it turned out, The Wedding Singer was delightful. Dripping with camp and more 80s pop culture references than you could shake a delorean at, it could easily have slipped into the realm of cheap nostalgia or worse, full on cheese but the romance at the heart of the show ensured that never happened. Of course, there were moments where the period humour fell flat, since around third of the audience were too young to remember the decade in any great detail, but for the most part the enthusiasm of the cast was enough to make even the most bemused audience member laugh along.
At the heart of the show’s magic was Jon Robyns, whose endearingly dorky Robbie Hart carries the production with ease. Flitting between hilariously melodramatic angst and infuriatingly naive optimism, we cheer for him through every breakdown and bad decision on the merit of his boyish charm alone. In a show that could have so easily become saccharine, both he and Cassie Compton play the couple at the centre of the will “they/won’t they” with such earnest that is impossible not to be sucked in.
Perhaps the show’s best quality is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Despite its grandiose message that love will triumph over evil (or douchey Wall Street fat-cats) we are allowed to see that real love is more goofy, awkward and eyeroll worthy than we give it credit for. In The Wedding Singer, real love has marriage proposals attended by Vegas Billy Idol impersonators, drunken bar-room proclamations of never loving again, and even rap songs featuring a queer-coded character and a grandma played by the woman from Hi-de-Hi – which, if I’m honest, is fine by me.
(Image courtesy of The Wedding Singer UK)