WEDDING SINGER Swings and Sings at New Candlelight

by Greer Firestone

Chris Baron(Robbie), Anthony Connell(George) in a scene from THE WEDDING SINGER at New Candlelight Theatre.

Producing Director Chris Alberts is a savvy arbiter of talent. When he requires a more classic Broadway musical feel, he calls choreographer Sonny Leo. If the genre is more over the top or down and dirty hell-bent, unrelenting rock n’ roll, it’s Dann Dunn.

I referred to Aisle Say’s notes on Dunn’s work on NCT’s “Cats “Choreographer Dann Dunn done damn good!”. In WEDDING SINGER, Dunn’s dancers are dynamite. Their explosive energy is a thunderous clash of the meeting of heaven and earth.

In the past two years NCT’s dancing has been superb. Taking a cue from Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video, WEDDING SINGER’s “Casualty of Love” is the most inventive, kinetic, demonic and, yes, ‘thrilling’ production number I’ve ever seen at NCT.. After a slow half of Act I, this got everyone who had a pulse engaged. Alberts’ lighting added to the shock and awe.

How Dunn got 15 + terrific dancers doing this on the tiny stage without hurting one another adds to the wonderment.

Robbie (Chris Baron), the title character, is a charming and likable guy who considers himself somewhat of a loser. He sings, dances and does a passable air guitar.

The plot is predictable in that he meets his eventual match Julia (Michelle Cabot) in scene one. There is a chemistry between the two, most notably in “Come Out Of The Dumpster”. Cabot’s voice is tinny in the upper ranges.

Sammy (Anthony Connell) has an uncommon way about him. Few actors have been gifted with such a strong sense of stage presence. I would use the term “The Natural”. There was no second on the stage that I ever felt he was anything but wholly identified with the character…and this ‘character’ wore heels and sported a wig a la early Lenny Kravitz. I considered Connell excellent as the lead in the previous MISS SAIGON and will be interested in seeing him on stage again. Mentioning this to my dear sister Liz on the way home, she had similar sentiment.

Linda (Kaylan Wetzel) deserved “featured’ performer as the woman who left Robbie at the altar. “Let Me Come Home” was dazzling in both voice and dance. She left nothing to the libidinous imagination. I recall mentioning Wetzel as the female lead in FOOTLOOSE….”she elevated testosterone levels both on stage and with all males in the audience over 13.”. As Linda…ditto with an exclamation!

Ballads are not the strength of the show. The production numbers were the driving force.  The book writer excavated every catch phrase or cultural icon of the ’80’s: to wit: Erik Estrada, Wall street felon Ivan Boesky, Michael Milken’s junk bonds; even rockers Flock of Seagulls (which mysteriously ended up in Sammy’s hair (Paul Goodman)).

When the romantic leads Robbie and Julia end up in a La Vegas wedding chapel, impersonators are part of the party: fake Ronald Reagan offering jelly beans, fake Mr. T (will they ever find another use for that wig?), a transvestite fake Tina Turner, fake Cindy Lauper and our table’s favorite, fake Imelda Marcos, who incidentally was barefooted! (If you are under 45 you won’t get my point). This scene was hysterical, it was ribald and most important….it was silly. In these angst-filled times of Arab Spring, of legislating morality, of Newt (for Newton?) and Mitt (for Mitten?)…well, don’t we all deserve as much silliness as can be manufactured? Dear readers, the production line begins at NCT. Grab a seat.

This show has as many lunatic one liners as Aisle Say’s all time faves..FORUM and THE PRODUCERS. NCT swings and scores once again.

The dancers deserve a standing O. Male Dancing Ensemble: Steve Stonis, David Snyder, Billy Hart, David McConney, Rob Rodriquez, Ben Cramer and Dan Sanchez

Female Dancing Ensemble: Kaylen Wetzel, Rachel Beiswenger (Imelda!), Maureen Cotellese, Nicole Calabrese, Amanda Grady and Danielle Piccolomini (who emphatically states she is not 12 years old. Yet, to verify I must see a birth certificate…and a notarized one at that!)

Music by Matthew Sklar

Lyrics by Chad Beguelin
Book by Chad Beguelin and Timothy Herlihy
Directed by Chris Alberts
March 23-May 20, 2012
New Candlelight Theatre
2208 Millers Rd
Wilmington DE 19810


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