Lake City Playhouse’s ‘The Wedding Singer’ teaches actors a thing or two about the ’80s

July 5, 2018 GMT

The Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore film “The Wedding Singer” was released in 1998 and is set in 1985.

Songs like Culture Club’s “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me,” Billy Idol’s “White Wedding” and Spandau Ballet’s “True” pepper the soundtrack, and in one scene, Barrymore’s character Julia Sullivan suggests playing a record on the CD player her fiance has bought for her.

In other words, it’s an ’80s story, through and through.

Which makes the fact that all but two members of the cast of Lake City Playhouse’s production of “The Wedding Singer” weren’t born until the 1990s all the more interesting.

Throughout the rehearsal process, director Keith Hopkins has found himself playing translator for the cast.

“There’s so many of these lines, especially in the movie, that are so ’80s to say that sometimes they’ll just say it as a character line,” he said. “Like ‘Oh, this is what I’m supposed to be saying. This is dialogue.’ When it’s like ‘No, this is very much a catchphrase line. You’ve got to really emphasize the catchphrase to make the audience believe that you know what it means.’ ”

But the silver lining is that with no preconceived notion of what the ’80s were like, Hopkins can mold the actors into the characters.

“The Wedding Singer” follows Robbie Hart, a wedding singer who, after being left at the altar, falls in love with waitress Julia Sullivan, who is not-so-happily engaged to businessman Glen Gulia.

“It’s a fresher approach to a love story than standard musical theater, especially from the ’50s and ’60s with Rodgers and Hammerstein,” Hopkins said.

“The Wedding Singer,” which features music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin and a book by Beguelin and Tim Herlihy, opens Friday and runs through July 22 at Lake City Playhouse.

Trenton Klinkefus and Marta Myers star as Hart and Sullivan.

Casting Klinkefus was a gamble, Hopkins said, because the actor didn’t know how to play the guitar, an essential element of the Hart character.

But after a few lessons, Klinkefus has learned how to play the songs Sandler wrote for the film.

“He’s getting better and better each time,” Hopkins said. “That’s some devotion and dedication right there.”

“The Wedding Singer” also stars CJ Lorentz (Sammy), Truman Harris (George), Halle Schmitt (Holly), Easton Townsend (Glen Guglia), Jessica Peterson (Rosie), Cambria Ravsten (Linda) and Bonnie Throckmorton (Angie).

The ensemble includes Moriah Heberer, Arianna Lema, Annabelle Brasch, Amy Bethmann, Isabella Jackowich, Dominic Figuracion, Rhead Shirley and Spencer Hawkins.

Heather Brown is the music director, Mikala Lindgren choreographed the show and River Hopkins will stage manage.

“The Wedding Singer” opened on Broadway in 2006 and was nominated for five Tony Awards, including best musical and best book of a musical, the same year.

Lake City Playhouse was originally scheduled to produce “Heathers: The Musical” this summer, but a number of high profile suicides, as well as the increased prevalence of bullying in schools, compelled the theater’s board to replace the show with “The Wedding Singer.”

“They decided to change for the community to make it more enjoyable,” Hopkins said. “Anyone can enjoy this show.”

Those who have seen the movie will especially enjoy the musical, as the script is nearly verbatim and the musical features all the songs Sandler wrote for the film.

“That will resonate with older audience, and with the younger audience, it gives them a glimpse of what the ’80s was like that they’d never know,” Hopkins said.