Wednesday, April 22, 2015

reviews - THE WEDDING SINGER - Spotlight Youth Theatre

David Samson, Karson Cook, Mason Reeves and Daniel Lyons
(photo: Wade Moran)
For more information on this production, that runs through April 26th, click here.

 "The fun of The Wedding Singer is its time and place.  The 80’s was a strange decade of differing musical tastes, dubious hairstyles and some equally dubious teenage apparel, inspired more often than not by the appearance of those colorfully influential pop/rock stars on MTV when the station actually played music.  Mason Reeves brings a likeability factor to Robbie that was missing in the film.  Mason’s portrayal of Robbie is so easy to like – he instills a keen sense of warmth the moment you meet him. Ali Whitwell’s Julia is equally likeable, though she has the advantage of playing a character intentionally written that way, and the actor does it well.  It’s not hard to see why Robbie would be smitten by Ali’s Julia. Directors Mark and Lynzee 4man, themselves two highly talented local valley performers, have taken this flimsy material and injected the kind of life, energy and overall sense of 80’s fun to the Spotlight stage that, in the end, is more entertaining to watch than the show itself.  From the high-energy opening number, "It’s Your Wedding Day," where the whole cast enter from both sides of the stage, the tireless vigor required makes the whole affair burst with life.  Lynzee’s energetic choreography hits the mark as it incorporates steps familiar from 80’s videos mixed with original moves of her own, and the terrific cast rises wonderfully well to the occasion.
As a Broadway show, the book for The Wedding Singer is surprisingly charmless, but it’s what Spotlight does with it that’s important.  If anything, the simpleness of the show is a showcase for what the young performers of Spotlight can do, and in the end as with all local productions, that’s what really counts." -David Appleford, Valley Screen and Stage (click here to read the complete review)

"Turning hit movies into Broadway musicals hasn't always proven to be successful. For every hit film to stage transfer like The Producers there are flops like Ghost or Leap of Faith. The musical version of the 1998 Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore comedy hit film The Wedding Singer falls somewhere in between. While the show only had an eight-month Broadway run, it has a tuneful and energetic score and a script that includes a nice balance of comical situations and fun characters along with a huge dose of charm. Spotlight Youth Theatre's production of the show is a huge success. It has well thought out direction and choreography and a talented cast led by the exceptional Mason Reeves. The dynamic duo team of husband and wife Mark and Lynzee 4Man co-direct the production, with Lynzee providing nonstop and always changing choreography and Mark supplying fine-tuned musical direction. They don't make a single misstep in their direction, providing a perfect balance between the comedy and dramatic moments and moving the show along at a brisk pace.  If there is any doubt about the high caliber of teen performers in town, you need to look no further than the leads in this production. Mason Reeves is remarkable as Robbie. He brings a winning personality and a huge amount of charm to the part, making you truly care for Robbie. Add in Reeves' strong singing voice, sleek dance moves, and fine acting abilities and you have a triple threat on par with few other teenagers in town. It is a performance you will remember for a very long time.   Ali Whitwell is just as good as Julia, giving the character a sunny, optimistic view on life, even when things turn sour. Whitwell has a clear, strong singing voice that brings out the best of the romantic lyrics in her songs, especially the upbeat love duet "If I Told You." Lynzee's choreography gives the whole cast plenty to do, with every number different, including the showstopping opening number "It's Your Wedding Day" and the sleek and sexy "All About the Green."   Lisa DeGroodt's costumes and Trey DeGroodt's superb hair and make-up designs represent the best and worst of the '80s, which means they work exceedingly well to bring the horrors of the era to vibrant life. With exceptional direction and choreography and knock out costumes, hair and make-up, Spotlight Youth Theatre's The Wedding Singer is a fun-filled good time with a gifted cast of some of the best teenage actors in the Valley." -Gil Benbrook, Talkin' Broadway (click here to read the complete review)

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