The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 25, 2010

Musical comedy fulfills vows

UPJ will stage 'The Wedding Singer'

Tom Lavis
tlavis@tribdem.com

— Run your comb through your mullet, dust of those miniskirts and don headbands to take a trip back to 1985 for “The Wedding Singer.”

Pitt-Johnstown’s theater department will stage the musical in the Studio Theater of Pasquerilla Performing Arts Center, 450 Schoolhouse Road in Richland Township.

Curtain time is 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and Nov. 4-7.

In “The Wedding Singer,” rock-star wannabe Robbie Hart, portrayed by junior Zach Pilot, is New Jersey’s favorite wedding singer. He is the life of the party until his own fiancee leaves him at the altar.

The jilted Robbie makes every wedding he plays as disastrous as his own.

Enter Julia, played by junior Taylor Casti, a charming waitress who wins Robbie’s affection. However, Julia is about to be married to a Wall Street shark, Glen Guglia, played by sophomore Cliff Maloney Jr.

Unless Robbie can pull off the performance of the decade, the girl of his dreams will be gone forever.

The cast also includes freshman Luke Mitchell as Sammy, sophomore Josh Rinaman as George, senior Kayt Helsel as Holly, and junior Jayme Brooks as Rosie.

The stage version differs from the popular screen version that starred comedian Adam Sandler.

While the characters and the plot are similar, some celebrity impersonators are added at the end for the scenes in Las Vegas.

“The film version just had Billy Idol, and the musical version adds Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, Mr. T, and other surprise guests,” said Ann Marie Stewart, director and professor of theater arts. “The songs that Adam Sandler sings in the movie version are all included, but the major difference is that 18 more songs have been added.”

Stewart said directing a musical that has such wonderful name recognition is an advantage.

“The film was so popular that many people are already familiar with the plot and characters, so the music and the choreography become the highlight of the production, because they are all new to the audience,” she said. “It’s just another layer of delightful, hilarious entertainment.”

The production features a full orchestra pit with professional musicians conducted by Mike Bodolosky, arts center executive director.

“It’s a geat show with great cast and great music,” Bodolosky said.

“The students are having a good time with it, and so will the audience."

The musical includes 22 songs, such as “Somebody Kill Me Please” (Robbie’s broken-hearted lament in the style of The Cure), “Grow Old with You,” “It’s Your Wedding Day,” “Saturday Night in the City,” “and the love song, “If I Told You.”

“Every song has a catchy melody, and overall it is extraordinarily upbeat and playful.” Stewart said.

“The lyrics are just flat out hysterical. It truly is a gem, and is simultaneously insightful, intelligent, witty and satirical.”

Stewart said the real challenge has been the many set changes.

In the movie, location changes happen fast and furiously. On stage, that is a more difficult task.

“We have chosen to create a set that is representational, without being too cumbersome or heavy, which allows us to transition from scene to scene in a matter of seconds.” Stewart said.

“The result should be that the set changes appear effortless, almost invisible,” she said.

Adding to the magic of the show are outlandish costume and hair styles that reflect the style of the ’80s.

“The costume and hair designers have worked very hard on both the big picture and the fine details that really sell the period style,” Stewart said. “It’s a fabulous representation of style, with big hair, mullets, Mohawks, short skirts, parachute pants and all kinds of fashion fun.”

Because the performance includes some strong language and adult content, Stewart recommends it for PG-13 audiences.

Tickets cost $19, $17 and $12.

Tickets may be purchased by calling 269-7200, (800) 846-2787 or by visiting www.upjarts.com.

Tickets also will be available at the door.