KAUKAUNA, Wis. (WFRV)
The ring fits.
That’s one takeaway from the Kaukauna Community Players production of the sometimes gamy “The Wedding Singer: The Musical Comedy.”
Trent Hoffman fits in the title role. Like: Yes, that’s the way you do it. He’s got the look, voice and manner of a knight of comically woeful countenance – a guy who deals in love and marriage who is jilted at the altar.
Other leads deliver, too.
The story: After getting dumped, wedding singer Robbie Hart (Hoffman) overlooks the obvious as he stumbles along with his band mates, Sammy and George. Robbie has met a friendly waitress, Julia, who is searching for the same thing as Robbie and thinks she has found it with money-minded boyfriend, Glen. Robbie’s grandma is around for advice and earthy laughs.
One performance remains today, June 28, in Bernie Hupperts Center for the Performing Arts in Kaukauna High School.
It is an opportunity to see a show that hasn’t been done much in this region. Not many community troupes are keen on PG-13/borderline R material. There’s that gaminess, starting with the proverbial gross, big-mouth drunk uncle at a wedding reception and including a hormonal dance. But the music has flair, the story is interesting and the touches with 1985 as nostalgia are fun.
While there are so-so elements in performance by the mixed-age, mixed-experience cast in this production, the singing by the leads is a strength.
Sweet duets are sung by Hoffman and Molly Schlaak as Julia. Schlaak adds yearning and warm qualities in her characterization and solos.
Robbie’s buddies – wannabe hard rockers but stuck playing weddings – spice the story. David Been plays Sammy, who has an outrageous hairdo of the time and an ex-girlfriend, Holly, who grouses about his selfish way. Nick Lamers plays George, a soul so sensitive – an opposite for a wannabe headbanger – that he pours heart into a solo at a bar mitzvah.
As Julia’s friend and Sammy’s ex, Toni Yankowski is peppery, notably in a fiery solo in “Right in Front of Your Eyes.”
As Julia’s boyfriend, Amos Huse brings a smarmy way to his character and the colorful song “All About the Green.”
As Robbie’s grandmother, Rosie, Claudia Weaver deadpans stuff that Robbie doesn’t want to hear, mostly that sex wasn’t just invented yesterday and she wasn’t a one-petal blossom.
Greg Franzen keeps popping up in supporting roles, first getting attention as the dreadful uncle with the unfiltered mouth at the opening wedding reception.
Director Eric Schommer and the leads keep the production balanced as the story progresses. Supporting players try their best in tricky numbers and roles.
The pit musicians hit a stride with the score’s often-catchy rhythms. Pit players are especially good at matching what Robbie, Sammy and George seem to be playing on stage.
Along with the dicey joking around, “The Wedding Singer” has clever, teasing humor about the ’80s – like looking at a photo album and laughing at clothing and hair styles. One goodie is about when somebody at Coca-Cola thought it was a smart idea to change the formula. Duh.
Also, it is delicious seeing – as administer of wedding vows at a Las Vegas chapel – an impressionist as President Ronald Reagan along with his first lady, Nancy Reagan, portrayed with gentility by the troupe’s “first couple,” Scott Felten and Linda Felten. That’s something of an inside joke that fits, too.
Creative: Book – Chad Beguelin, Tim Herlihy; music – Matthew Sklar; lyrics – Chad Beguelin; director – Eric Schommer; choreographer – Brandi Hietpas; stage manager – Jacqui Lange; scenic designer – Eric Schommer; set builder – Brad Leonhardt; lighting designer – TJ Harikkala; costume manager – Carol Mucha; props – Jacqui Lange
Robbie Hart – Trent Hoffman
Sammy – David Been
George – Nick Lamers
Julia Sullivan – Molly Schlaak (June 21, Brittney Baldwin)
Holly – Toni Yankowski (June 21, Brooke Mentzel)
Linda – Brooke Mentzel (June 21, Kylie Boesch)
Glen Guglia – Amos Huse
Rosie – Claudia Weaver
Angie – Linda Felten
Priest – Greg Franzen
Mookie (“Pop!”) – Tanner Nerison
Crystal (“Pop!”) – Bailey Bidwell
Donnie – Calvin Bukovitz
Tiffany – Brandie Hietpas
1st Waiter – Jack Miron
2nd Waiter – Greg Franzen
Shane McDonough – Greg Franzen
Donatella McDonough – Tara Nerison
Bad Hair Cut Guy – Jack Miron
Sideburns Lady – Nora Bielmer
Loser Guy – Calvin Bukovitz
Twinkie Lady – Brooke Mentzel (understudy, Kylie Boesch)
Table 9 – Kacie Franzen, Anna Franzen, Bailey Bidwell
McDonough Maid of Honor – Brandie Hietpas
Jarred Shapiro – Tanner Nerison
Store Clerk – Kathy Breitzman
Mookie (“Not That Kind of Thing”) – Calvin Bukovitz
Crystal (“Not That Kind of Thing”) – Kylie Boesch
Waitress (“Saturday Night in the City”) – Kylie Boesch
Glen’s Secretary – Bailey Bidwell
Junior Secretary – Kylie Boesch
Bum – Greg Franzen
Strippers – Kylie Boesch, Brooke Mentzel
Arnold (“Move That Thang”) – Greg Franzen
Agent – Kylie Boesch
Billy Idol Impersonator – Calvin Bukovitz
Elvis Impersonator – Greg Franzen
Ronald Reagan Impersonator – Scott Felten
Nancy Reagan Impersonator – Linda Felten
Tina Turner Impersonator – Chelsea Poppleton
Cyndi Lauper Impersonator – Tara Nerison
Imelda Marcos – Kylie Boesch
Orchestra: conductor – Jacob Martin; bass – Alec Balge; acoustic guitar, electric guitar – Skylar Glaser; alto sax, clarinet, flute – Karen Hanson; baritone saxophone, English horn, flute, oboe, tenor saxophone – Haley Fink; trumpet, flugelhorn – Tori Vandenberg; percussion – Zach Eggert; drums – Dan Mader; keyboard – John Tengowski
Running time: Two hours, 25 minutes
Remaining performance: 7 p.m. June 28
“It’s Your Wedding Day” – Robbie, Sammy, George, Ensemble
“Someday” – Julia, Women
“Awesome” – Robbie, Julia
“Someday” (Robbie’s Reprise) – Robbie
“A Note from Linda” – Linda
“It’s Your Wedding Day” (Reprise 1) – Robbie
“Pop!” – Holly, Angie, Julia, Ensemble
“Somebody Kill Me” – Robbie
“A Note from Grandma” – Rosie
“Pre-Casualty-Wedding Day – Robbie, Ensemble
“Casualty of Love” – Robbie, Mutants, Ensemble
“Come Out of the Dumpster” – Julia, Robbie
“Today You Are a Man” – Robbie, Sammy, George
“George’s Prayer” – George
“Not That Kind of Thing” – Clerk, Robbie, Julia, Mookie, Crystal, Ensemble
“Saturday Night in the City” – Holly, Julia, Glen, George, Robbie, Sammy, Ensemble
“All About the Green” – Glen, Robbie, Ensemble
“Someday” (Julia’s Reprise) – Julia
“Right in Front of Your Eyes” – Holly, Sammy
“All About the Green” (Reprise) – Robbie, Bum, Ricky
“Single” – Sammy, George, Ricky, Bum, Robbie, Male Ensemble
“If I Told You” – Robbie, Julia
“Let Me Come Home” – Linda
“Not That Kind of Thing”/“If I Told You” (Reprise) –Robbie, Julia, Rosie
“Move That Thang” – Rosie, George
“Grow Old with You” – Robbie, Julia
“Finale” – Full Ensemble
THE VENUE (2017): The 806-seat Bernie Hupperts Center for the Performing Arts is located in Kaukauna High School, which was built in 1999. The theater includes a 50-foot fly loft, an orchestra pit and a spacious stage footprint. The pit is faced with a rose taupe concrete block. Seats consist of black plastic backs, wooden arms and red seat fabric with a diamond pattern in navy blue with light flecks at “first” and “third” base. The sloped floor is gray concrete, with the aisle carpeting of a wavy pattern of browns. The auditorium’s traditional burgundy color scheme is complemented with such design elements as natural oak woodwork and a stained concrete proscenium frame. Acoustic clouds are suspended rectangular wood panels with the overall look reminiscent of a large checkers/chess board. The “lobby” is a spacious public commons that also serves the adjacent gymnasium. THE PERSON: Bernie Hupperts was a longtime arts instructor at Kaukauna High who was instrumental in launching the Kaukauna Community Players in 1982. He is retired and remains active in the Eagle River area.