Rose Theatre, Edinburgh
The Rose Theatre is packed, the twelve-piece band are noisily tuning up their instruments and the atmosphere of mounting excitement is palpable. It’s only when you return to events like this that you realise how much you’ve missed them.
The Wedding Singer is an excellent choice for a student production. Inspired by Adam Sandler’s 1998 comedy – you remember, back when Sandler was actually funny – and set some time in the 1980s, this is a funny, breezy musical all about the American preoccupation with marriage. While there are a few technical issues with the sound equipment in the first half, it never gets in the way of the general air of exuberance as the ensemble cast dance energetically around the stage, moving in unison with well-rehearsed aplomb.
Robbie Hart (Chris Kane) makes his living as… well, the clue’s in the title. Together with his two best friends, Sammy (Beni Barker) and George (Joey Lawson), he writes customised songs to suit every occasion. He’s also looking forward to his own impending marriage to Linda (Megan Le Brocq), even though he finds himself powerfully drawn to waitress Julia (Phoebe Sampson). When he’s left at the altar by Linda, it ought to be a simple transference of affection, but it’s complicated. Julia has just become engaged to the odious Glen (Mitchell Collins), a yuppie dedicated to making money. What hope is there for a struggling musician who lives in his Grandma Rosie (Rachel Meek)’s basement?
With foot-tapping tunes, some very funny lines and plenty of 80s cultural references, The Wedding Singer offers a guaranteed good night out and the crowd is vocal in its appreciation. Hart and Sampson have genuine chemistry together, while Collins (looking for all the world like a young Mark Wahlberg) is magnificently sleazy, and Meek exercises her comic skills as Robbie’s groovy granny, still well able to strut her stuff. But it’s also important to say there are no weak links here, with every performer giving one hundred percent.
If I have a criticism of tonight’s show it’s of the unnecessarily long interval between acts. The show inevitably loses some of its momentum and the cast have to work their respective socks off to recover from it – but recover they do and the final wild applause feels genuinely well-deserved.
We’ve missed these student shows so much over the lockdown. It’s truly enervating to see so much young talent given the opportunity to shine. Those in need of a guaranteed pick-me-up should head down to the Rose Theatre pronto.
But don’t hang about, it’s only on for three more performances.