The Wedding Singer is another notch on the bedpost from Broadway's fetish for musical adaptations of older films, joining efforts from The Producers to Legally Blonde. Stage 62's production, directed by Becki Toth, is a valiant effort to polish a lazy script into something entertaining.
The show is about wedding singer Robbie Hart, here played by Chris Martin, and his burgeoning romance with a waitress, Julia (Becca Chennette). It takes place in the '80s, making this a 2013 production of a 2006 adaptation of a 1998 movie set in 1985.
This show's biggest weakness is the desperately humor-starved script, written by Tim Herlihy and Chad Beguelin. Wedding Singer is a comedy only in the classical sense, in that it ends with a wedding. (I apologize for spoiling the end of The Wedding Singer.) For instance, the idea of an old white lady rapping and saying dirty words was obnoxiously played out by the time the original film was released. Yet the adaptation felt the need not only to keep this abysmal "joke," but to expand it into a climactic number.
Most of the other jokes are equally poorly conceived; many seem to assume that gay people's existence is a punchline rather than a statistical fact. If you laugh at this show, it is thanks to the performers doing a heroic job with what they were given.
The songs are a mixed bag. Perhaps half of them are enjoyable, but the other half, including the grandma song, will provide you with the longest cringes of your life. This does make you appreciate the good numbers even more strongly.
The company does manage to wring some moments of fun out of the premise. The visual designers walked an uneasy path — providing the fashions of the 1980s while making characters believable and sympathetic to an audience that isn't out of its mind on cocaine and Miami Vice. The weaker songs are bolstered by dance pastiches of "Thriller" and Flashdance. Generally, the production's efforts to ape the age it's set in mark the highlight of the show.
The Wedding Singer is for people who loved the movie, or loved the '80s, and can't get enough of either.