Home Mt Laurel News LHS’ “The Wedding Singer” promises ’80s nostalgia, plenty of ‘Hart’

LHS’ “The Wedding Singer” promises ’80s nostalgia, plenty of ‘Hart’

The spring musical's performances will be March 6, 7, 13 and 14

Madeleine Maccar The Sun: Sophia Bollar’s Julia tries to coax her friend Robbie (played by Chase Kessler) out of the dumpster after his disastrous return as a wedding singer soon after his own wedding ended in embarrassment and abandonment.

More than 90 dedicated individuals are working tirelessly to turn the Lenape High School auditorium into a time machine heading straight for the ‘80s — and all are cordially invited to attend.

During the first two weekends of March, Lenape students will bring six performances of “The Wedding Singer” to the high school’s stage in its full neon-colored, hair sprayed glory.

“As a director and as an educator, I like to expose our students to all different kinds of musical genres,” says Michael DelRossi, who has been directing the high school’s musicals for four years but has more than 40 shows under his belt.

“We decided to do something a little different, and I like that no other schools have really done it, so it’ll be kind of different for our audience, too.”

“The Wedding Singer” is based on the 1998 Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore comedy of the same name, where the two main characters are engaged to the wrong people while the right person is right in front of them. The theatrical adaptation includes some small plot changes and big musical numbers that differentiate it from the source material.

Senior Dana Godfrey, one of the two actresses playing female lead Julia Sullivan (soon to be Julia Guglia), watched the romantic comedy “over and over” again to prepare for her role.

“I think Drew Barrymore does so well with her facial expressions and how she physically acts, and I used a lot of that,” Godfrey says. “She’s the ingénue, and it’s really fun getting to play a sweet girl who’s a little quirky.”

Senior Chase Kessler, who shares the lead role of Robbie Hart, has only seen parts of the rom-com — but did want to infuse some of Sandler’s personality into his interpretation of the big-hearted underdog.

“I didn’t watch the movie because I wanted to make this role my own,” Kessler says. “But I’ve heard Adam Sandler sing and I know how he acts, and I thought it would be good to at least put a little bit of him in my performance.”

DelRossi know that putting on such an unusual show is a bit of a risk; he admits “more obscure musicals” tend to draw less of an audience than well-known crowdpleasers like LHS’s previous productions of “Footloose” and “Annie” — but he feels the risk will pay off.

“This is the first show that we’ve done that’s PG-13, so there’s that more adult humor that the students absolutely love and I’m hoping the audience loves as well,” DelRossi says, referring to the film’s theater rating.

“We’re used to doing things like ‘Annie’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ so this one is a little bit different. This one has a real sense of humor and a real ‘80s rock vibe in all of the music.”

While the show doesn’t formally open until March 6, some of the cast got a chance to bring an abbreviated, intimate performance to a real-life wedding last month. Godfrey is a waitress at Medford’s Braddock’s Tavern, where she auspiciously crossed paths with a couple making their last-minute nuptial plans.

“That was the craziest experience ever!” she gushes. “I was waiting on this couple who were talking to my managers. One of them mentioned that I’m playing Julia, and they said ‘The Wedding Singer’ is their favorite Adam Sandler movie. Two or three weeks later, we sang two songs from the show, ‘Grow Old With You’ and ‘It’s Your Wedding Day,’ at their wedding.”

“It was awesome,” agrees freshman Dylan Shugar, who says “The Wedding Singer” is his first experience performing a musical. “The couple was so sweet, they were so happy, they stood up and clapped at the end and said that they loved it.”

Aside from Robbie Hart’s brief descent into madness and heartbreak over being left at the altar by the woman he eventually realizes was wrong for him anyway, the cast and director agree that “The Wedding Singer” is an upbeat, lively show filled with catchy tunes and tons of heart.

“If you’re just looking to have a good time or you’re looking to escape, it’s a fun story with some great songs,” Kessler says. “The show is very fun and it’s just an enjoyable experience.”

DelRossi thinks the show’s message is one that will resonate with the audience, too.

“I want them to see that the underdog can win,” he says. “Robbie doesn’t have money, he doesn’t have a great career and he ends up getting the girl through just sheer heart and his drive.

“That is such a beautiful message for anybody to hear, that you don’t have to be the best-looking guy, you don’t have to be the richest guy to have a shot at love: You just have to love this girl.”

“The Wedding Singer” will be performed at the Lenape High School auditorium at 7 p.m. on March 6, 7, 13 and 14, with matinee shows at 1 p.m. on March 7 and 14. Tickets for the PG-13 musical are $13 each and can be purchased at bit.do/lenapetix.

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