The Wedding Singer to serenade local theatre audiences

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Orangeville musical drama fans will begin the new year with a jaunt back to an older decade through the rom-com magic of theatre.

Orangeville Music Theatre will stage a version of The Wedding Singer, based on the hit 1998 Adam Sandler romantic comedy. The Wedding Singer’s sparkling new score is promised to do for the ‘80s what Hairspray did for the ‘60s. It’ll take audiences back to a time when hair was big, greed was good, collars were up, and a wedding singer might just be the coolest guy in the room.

It’s 1985 and rock-star wannabe Robbie Hart is New Jersey’s favorite wedding singer. He’s the life of the party, until his own fiancee leaves him at the altar. Shot through the heart, Robbie makes every wedding as disastrous as his own. Enter Julia, a winsome waitress who wins his affection. As luck would have it, Julia is about to be married to a Wall Street shark, and unless Robbie can pull off the performance of a decade, the girl of his dreams will be gone forever.

The play will run Jan. 9 to 24 at the Town Hall Opera House in Orangeville.

The production is directed and choreographed by Raeburn Ferguson, a recent theatre program graduate from York University with a focus on directing and theatre creation. Ferguson travelled to Europe this summer to showcase an original piece of theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival where she performed in the show she helped create.

Ferguson said there are some differences between the stage version and the film, but the main chassis of the story is the same.

“It’s the same storyline,” she said. “The biggest change is you’re not going to hear the same music.”

The Wedding Singer’s music is directed by Heather Holmes. In May 2012, she opened TriTone Music Studios in Orangeville. As a classical- and jazz-trained singer, Holmes shares a broad range of abilities with her students. She teaches all vocal styles as well as piano and theory in Orangeville and the Caledon areas.

Orangeville’s production is spun by 17 cast members, four musicians, and a generous complement of backstage crew. Believe it or not, but those numbers represent a smaller show than other versions staged.

“When you have more people, you have more people to move around,” Ferguson said. “There was challenges with casting some roles in the chorus.”

Ultimately, she said, story of the embittered jilted wedding singer will offer a humorous night out for audience members. Some of the bygone trends and style touches incorporated into the play will transport many people who lived through the 1980s, she said.

“It’s a totally ‘80s hilarious comedy,” Ferguson said.

Grease is the word for Orangeville Music Theatre

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Slick back your pompadour and dust off your leather jacket. Orangeville Music Theatre has a plan for upcoming Summer Nights.

The local theatre troupe will debut their version of the cult classic Grease on Friday (June 13) at the Orangeville Town Hall Opera House.

“Obviously everybody knows the movie, but it’s slightly different than the movie,” said Craig Marshall, the production’s director. “It’s a great one to do in the summer. It’s a nice fun show about a summer romance.”

The story, based in the 1950s, starts on the first day of school, following a summer romance between good girl Sandy and greaser Danny.

“You have this group of really cool guys and their leader is Danny,” Marshall said.

Danny and Sandy are both telling the tale of their summer romance together to their separate groups of friends.

“Danny’s version is a little more embellished because he’s with a group of guys,” Marshall said. “Sandy’s version is all about the wonderful romantic vacation she had.”

Danny and Sandy soon discover they are both students at the same high school.

“Danny has to struggle with trying to remain cool in front of his friends, and still be the Danny she fell for in the summer who was a kinder nicer guy,” Marshall said.

While John Travolta and Olivia Newton John brought Grease to the silver screen in the late 1970s, the story was originally a musical.

In the movie, the story was altered to make Sandy an Australian to accommodate John. Other than that, OMT’s version is similar to the film.

“It’s very similar to what everyone knows and loves,” Marshall said. “There are a couple different songs.”

In its production, OMT aims to honour the characters Grease fans know and love.

“We have little homages throughout the show to the original movie. People expect it,” Marshall said. “At the same time, there’s the built-in familiarity that can help you.”

Although the story is set more than 50 years in the past, Marshall said the content is still relevant today.

“We still deal with groups and cliques and conformity and trying to fit in,” the director said. “It’s very timely and audience friendly.”

The local production will stay true to its 1950s setting.

“When it comes to a show like Grease I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel and set it in the year 2010,” Marshall said. “I want to say as close to the original as I can.”

Recreating the Grease set is difficult considering the size constraints of the opera house. However, Marshall is certain the troupe will pull it off.

“There is a car, but we’re limited by the size of the stage for what we can do, but necessity breeds creativity,” He said. “It’s all about making the best use of the space that you can.”

Grease is Marshall’s first shot at directing an OMT production. Last year, he starred in the company’s production of Shrek as the title character.

“I had a lot of fun working with them and they asked if I wanted to be involved in another project,” he said. “So far we’re having a great time.”

He praised his cast as a welcoming and fun crew to direct.

“Community theatre can have a lot of politics at times,” Marshall said of the troupe. “I feel a real combined sense of purpose with the group.”

Grease runs until June 28. For tickets, or more information, visit orangevillemusictheatre.com.

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