Review: ‘The Wedding Singer’ at Fairfax High School’s FX Players

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The Wedding Singer is one of the few musical adaptations based on a Hollywood hit that actually works. This is thanks in equal parts to the outstanding original music by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin – the act one closer “Saturday Night in the City” goes out with a serious bang – and the excellent source material, Adam Sandler’s love letter to the most bodacious decade in the last century.

Top L to R: Katie Ryan, Marin Bronaugh, Thomas Iodice, Renee Rozell, Matthew Velasco, Zion Jang, Bridget Baucum, Liam McPherson. BottomL to R: Katie Tomney, Ian Kirkland, Josie Morgan, Phoenix Noiwan, Janey SilasGulet Isse, Bruni Herring, Elijah King, Chad Friedman, Kyle Huott, Julie Kovach, Molly Berry, Michael Mitchell, Sara Latimer, Bobby Pazwhak, Michael Sulpizio, Emily Dillard, and Caroline Whitacre. Photo by Kimberly Klain.
Top L to R: Katie Ryan, Marin Bronaugh, Thomas Iodice, Renee Rozell, Matthew Velasco, Zion Jang, Bridget Baucum, Liam McPherson. Bottom L to R: Katie Tomney, Ian Kirkland, Josie Morgan, Phoenix Noiwan, Janey SilasGulet Isse, Bruni Herring, Elijah King, Chad Friedman, Kyle Huott, Julie Kovach, Molly Berry, Michael Mitchell, Sara Latimer, Bobby Pazwhak, Michael Sulpizio, Emily Dillard, and Caroline Whitacre. Photo by Kimberly Klain.

What a blast! As I sat/danced in my seat watching The Wedding Singer by the FX Players one thing kept going through my mind – this is SO MUCH FUN! The show does not disappoint. I’ll say this right up front – if you’ve got any affection for the 1980s you really don’t want to miss this. The cast, costumes, and music capture the decade perfectly.

The band, led by Kirsten Boyd, flat out kills. Jonah Hurley’s multi-level set, which pops with the fluorescent colors you’d expect from the decade that gave us Bill and Ted, is cleverly designed.

Master Carpenter Aren Tifft has built in some very cool surprises – like a 10-foot high balcony that doubles as both a rotating restaurant and an airplane. These two make superb use of the space they’re given – it’s clear they had a blast putting it all together. Katie Tomney & Lila Johnson’s choreography is quite simply a thrill to watch. With literally hundreds of costumes straight out of the 80’s – shoulder pads and neon colors included (all deftly assembled by Riley Mead) and an average change time of just 15 seconds for many in the exuberant ensemble – calling this show a technical feat would be, like, totally lame… err… a drastic understatement, rather. The entire cast and crew pull this beast of a show off with nothing short of absolute aplomb.

Elijah King (Robbie), Rachel Cahoon (Julia). Photo by Kimberly Klain.
Elijah King (Robbie), Rachel Cahoon (Julia). Photo by Kimberly Klain.

For the uninitiated, Robbie (Elijah King) is a born romantic and the lead singer of the hottest wedding band around. After getting left at the altar by his fiancée Linda (Renee Rozell) he snaps and falls into a truly pathetic (if hilarious) downward spiral. Luckily the adorable banquet hall waitress Julia (Rachel Cahoon) is there to help pick him back up. It’s clear from the start that these two are meant to be together – but getting there won’t be so easy. King and Cahoon nail their respective parts – but there’s just one snag. Julia is engaged to be married to Glen (Darien Weems) – the world’s biggest jerk. Weems tackles Glen with a cool confidence that makes him fun to watch – even though the character is completely unlikable. The story itself is predictable – but watching it unfold with this cast is just too much fun to pass up.

Emily Dillard and Zion Jang. Photo by
Emily Dillard and Zion Jang. Photo by

I spoke with director Erich Dicenzo about the production process – “I pushed these kids hard – but they stayed with me every step of the way. I’ve rarely seen this level of investment from a cast but something about this show clearly inspired them.”

Notable standouts from the large cast are Emily Dillard as Robbie’s hip-hopping, breakdancing grandmother Rosie – and Zion Jang’s delightfully androgynous George (a nod to the 80s pop icon Boy George) steals nearly every scene he’s in.

The Wedding Singer is a fun romp with a happy ending befitting the film (and decade) it pays homage to. Don’t miss your chance to see this truly outrageous party go down.

They’ve even got some limited VIP seating – tables situated in the orchestra pit – featuring food and drink, and an up-close and personal view of the action.

Running Time: 2 hours 20 minutes, including one 15-minute intermission.

The Wedding Singer plays through May 14, 2016 at Fairfax High School’s FX Players performing at the Fairfax High School Theatre – 3501 Rebel Run Road, in Fairfax, VA. For tickets, purchase them at the door or online.

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Darell Poe is our guest reviewer.