Attending Bay Area Musicals’ production of “The Wedding Singer” felt uncannily like attending an actual wedding — everyone in the crowd seemed to know somebody. Perhaps it was just the anomalous feeling that comes with attending opening night, but the environment at San Francisco’s Victoria Theatre was undeniably friendly. With references to iconic songs and films galore, this well-executed production offers a delightful love story set against the sights and sounds of the vibrant ‘80s.
The narrative of the musical follows the musician Robbie Hart (Zac Schuman) and his band as they sing love songs from wedding to wedding. But when Robbie’s fiance abandons him at the altar, his heart is broken and he eventually starts to fall for Julia (Jenny Angel) — who herself is engaged.
The musical began, as the ‘80s would seemingly demand, with one of the show’s three disco balls spectacularly filling the theater with lights. The opening number, “It’s Your Wedding Day,” set the night’s bright and energetic tone with earnest dance moves from the entire cast. This upbeat song concluded with one member of the ensemble doing “the worm” across the stage — much to the delight and whoops of the members in the audience. This number was also successful in firmly establishing the star of the show, Zac Schuman, as one to watch.
In the starring role, Schuman delivered a confident and impressive performance. In his role of a somewhat lovable loser, Schuman had ample opportunity to showcase his musical talent with songs such as “Grow Old With You,” allowing him to simultaneously play acoustic guitar and sing. Schuman also did the show’s heavy lifting in terms of comedy.
Although funny enough within the script, Schuman was adaptable to whatever problems opening night threw his way. When a lighting cue was slightly late, Schuman bounced back with a well-delivered, “Oh! There it is.” This moment briefly demonstrated Schuman’s ability to think on his feet and spoke to his talent as a performer.
Accompanying Schuman’s talents were the two standout performances delivered by his bandmates Sammy (Max Thorne) and George (Matt Ono). Even in roles akin to sidekicks, Thorne and Ono played off each other well and tended to steal whatever scenes they were in. Thorne had great comedic timing and it was a pleasure to watch him portray a skeevy character so convincingly. Not one to be outshined, Ono also delivered some memorable moments including an unforgettably hilarious number during the Bar Mitzvah scene, complete with a trumpet solo.
On the whole, the performances by each member of the cast were well-executed, with the exception of Glen’s (Jepoy Ramos). As Julia’s fiance, Ramos had significant stage time. Although it was clear that his passion and energy were there, it was at times difficult to understand his dialogue. This was perhaps most noticeable in the fast-paced “All About the Green” — a song that demands rapid-fire delivery. Despite this minor shortcoming, Ramos still created a respectable portrait of a deplorable and money-hungry fiance.
The show’s energetic musical performances were accompanied visually with stunning, transitioning color palettes and dazzling lights. It was clear that careful attention was paid to costuming, as each musical number was painted in one dominant color. In the agressive, rock-heavy number “Casualty of Love,” the characters onstage were all decked in red. Throughout the course of the song, the initially tame wedding guests were transformed into crazed headbangers under the dancing red lights.
Conversely, during the more comedic Bar Mitzvah scene, its attendees were swathed in various shades of blue. The difference in colors seemed to highlight the contrast in tones between these two moments and it was pleasing to track the rainbow of colors from scene to scene.
A colorful and lively performance, “The Wedding Singer” did not disappoint. From the stunner shade-wearing employees working concessions to overt “Flashdance” references, Bay Area Musicals embraced ‘80s nostalgia while delivering fresh performances and undeniable fun.
“The Wedding Singer” is playing at the Victoria Theatre through March 17.
Contact Sarah Alford at [email protected].