The Hippo


Oct 16, 2019








Sean Vigeant, Lillie Ellars, Nick Page. Courtesy photo.

See The Wedding Singer

Where: Janice B. Streeter Theatre, 14 Court St., Nashua
When: Friday, July 17, at 8 p.m.; Saturday, July 18, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, July 19, at 2 p.m.
Admission: $12-$15
Contact:, 320-1870

Wedding Singer on stage
Actorsingers go PG-13 with Adam Sandler musical

By Kelly Sennott

 If you’re going to produce an Adam Sandler show with a teen theater group, you’ve got to make sure the kids are mature enough to handle it. Sure, there’s silliness and comedy in The Wedding Singer, but it’s also rated PG-13, even in its musical form.

And this summer’s Teen Actorsingers director, Tim Stanley, runs a tight ship; he likes to treat all cast members, some as young as 13, as adults, and he expects them to act as such. Many of them prefer it this way.
“It’s fun to do a show with kind of mature content because it makes you feel more mature too. So if the director expects a level of professionalism, you can bring that, because it’s not like a kid’s show,” said Lillie Ellars, who plays Holly, during an interview before a Monday evening rehearsal.
The Nashua-based theater company performs The Wedding Singer at the Janice B. Streeter Theatre in Nashua this weekend. It won’t be the Teen Actorsingers’ first PG-13 show — last year’s Legally Blonde had adult humor, and the year before, Urinetown had dark themes. Directors say there have been no issues at all regarding maturity; the problems that arise have to do with the fact none of the actors were even alive in the ‘80s. The fashion and pop culture references move right over their heads.
“A lot of the choreography is inspired by Michael Jackson and Madonna and the greats of the ‘80s,” said show choreographer Brittney-Lynne Stanley (who is also the director’s daughter). “We’ll say, do this like Cyndi Lauper! And they’ll say, ‘I don’t know who that is.’ … We have the neon makeup and neon mascara, and the kids are like, ‘You want me to put that on my face?’”
Added Sean Vigeant, who plays Sammy, “Once, she just told us to freestyle like we would in an ‘80s dance club. None of us had any idea what she was talking about.”
Vigeant, like many of the players, wanted to perform in this show because of the Adam Sandler connection. Ellars became hooked after seeing the Peacock Players’ rendition about five years ago, the last time the show was produced in the area. 
“I got the music and have been listening to it for a long time,” Ellars said. “The Wedding Singer is one of my favorite Adam Sandler movies. Some of his films, like Billy Madison, are just so outrageous — I laugh, but there’s not really as much substance. But when he did this with Drew Barrymore, I liked it. I thought it was a good balance of his humor but with a real story.”
The play, which hit Broadway in 2006, differs from the film in a few ways. Character relationships are more detailed and a little altered, but for the most part, the plot’s the same. It follows a wedding singer named Robbie and a waitress named Julia who are engaged to the wrong people. They don’t realize until almost too late they’re really in love with each other. 
Directors say the musical retains its Adam Sandler “touch,” with much of the dialogue very similar if not identical to what’s in the film.
“But it’s a musical. I mean, in the middle of dialogue, you just have this wonderful song that randomly happens! I watched some of the outtakes on the DVD when they were going from the movie to the Broadway play. The creators were very intentional in what they called not wanting to create a jukebox musical, like Mamma Mia — you take the songs out of the jukebox and build the show,” Tim Stanley said. 
Indeed, only two songs are from the flick. The rest are original but with an ‘80s flair.
Choreography is also all original and ‘80s-inspired, courtesy of Brittney-Lynne Stanley, a former Patriots cheerleader. Though she’s worked with her dad before — he directed her in the company’s 2009 summer show, Swing! — this is the first time they’re sitting side by side in the directors’ chairs. So far, so good, they said.
“I think the reason we get along so well is we’re very like-minded in terms of our work ethic and the way we approach it,” Tim Stanley said.
In January, he gave her his vision, scene by scene, of what he wanted the show to look like. While she created choreography in the months before casting, she called, texted and emailed him for specifics. The result, he said, was almost exactly as he’d envisioned it. He thought the likeness was uncanny, but she admitted she knew it’d be a good idea to frequently touch base.
“He’s a very hard critic,” she laughed, “which is good. This is my fourth summer coming back to [choreograph for] the Teen Actorsingers, and I’ve worked with a number of different directors who all expect different things. Some said, ‘Just do what you do’ … but he had special things he was looking for, so the pressure was on.”
Sets will be minimalistic, and dancing will be everywhere — even between scenes, actors will be twirling props onto the stage. 
Directors were confident the musical would resonate with audiences.
“There’s a lot of rock, a lot of pop —everything has this homage to the ‘80s without stealing from the ‘80s,” musical director Henry Kopczynskie said. “I think if you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll be an even bigger fan of the musical.” 
As seen in the July 16, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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