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Theater Review: Lake City’s ‘Wedding Singer’ engages audiences with humor and music

UPDATED: Mon., July 9, 2018, 7:43 p.m.

Trenton Klinkefus as Robbie Hart in Lake City Playhouse’s “The Wedding Singer.” (Caden Butera)
Trenton Klinkefus as Robbie Hart in Lake City Playhouse’s “The Wedding Singer.” (Caden Butera)

Opening night of “The Wedding Singer,” at the Lake City Playhouse, was filled with bright lights, vibrant dancing, catchy songs, and, yes, the ’80s.

“It’s Your Wedding Day,” the opening number, set the tone for the night. The talents of the entire cast were showcased in an energetic dance routine, complete with flashy partnering moves and even flashier costumes.

The show follows the story of Robbie Hart (Trenton Klinkefus), a wedding singer, in his trials and tribulations with love, as he eventually ends up with Julia Sullivan (Marta Meyers), a young and hopeful waitress.

Klinkefus, in addition to his superior vocals and precise dance moves, perfectly and believably embodied the arc of the character.

From Robbie’s first appearance as a confident and successful musician, ready to marry the love of his life – or so he thinks – to a brokenhearted Robbie hiding in a dumpster, Klinkefus makes Robbie’s changes in spirit believable.

Meyers made a bright-faced and lovable Julia. Her voice was clear and bright, and her facial expressions really drew the audience in. Even while singing, Meyers perfectly emoted the nature of the scene in which her character was living.

Halle Schmitt was excellent as Holly, Julia’s supportive, fun-loving –and a bit provocative – cousin. Her voice was boisterous and vivacious, filled with spunk, and her dancing matched perfectly.

Easton Townsend brought another layer of humor to the show with his perfectly over-the-top portrayal of cocky business mogul Glen Guglia, Julia’s betrothed. His characterization was so fitting it made it impossible to fully hate the character.

The lead cast members are not alone in deserving an honorable mention, however.

Jessica Peterson played Rosie, Robbie’s supportive and loving, if not somewhat inappropriately over-sharing, grandmother. Peterson’s character was one I would have loved to see more of, as almost each of her lines had me doubling over in laughter.

I had initially pegged Rosie as a character as solely intended for humor, and was surprised that when Peterson opened her mouth to sing, she had a voice equal parts beautiful and powerful.

Another standout was Truman Harris, who played George, the keyboardist in Robbie’s band. Harris’ timing and intonation amplified several great one-liners throughout the show. He also wore a pair of sparkly heeled boots that were show-stopping in themselves.

A nod in the direction of the ensemble is also well deserved. Switching from costume to costume, character to character, and learning all the dances in between, it was clear that in this cast, each of the members brought their own talents and joined together to make something memorable for the Coeur d’Alene audience.

Also impressive was the ingenuity of the choreography. Each dance number was engineered to fit the scene in which it occurred, sometimes using scenery and props in ways that both added to the dancing and made it fit with the humor of the show.

One scene took place in a restaurant bathroom and used faux bathroom stall doors as props for dancers to hide behind and open, adding interest (and humor) to the dance number.

The show as a whole had more than a good dose of comedy, but the song and dance number, “Casualty of Love,” was a standout. Robbie is joined by several other down-and-out romantics as he sings about the pains of love, at a wedding nonetheless.

In addition to the raucous bouts of humor, the musical was peppered with subtler bits of comedy. These small moments could be found in the expressions of characters on the sidelines of the main action, such as the disapproving looks of William Inman as he played the father of the bride in the opening wedding scene.

An intimate theater experience added to the feel-good quality of my evening at the theater. Performers used the house doors as entrances and exits and some elements of the set were not on a raised stage platform, but on the floor level with the audience seating.

As with most of the cast, I didn’t live through the ’80s, so I’m hardly qualified to judge the accuracy of the depictions. But I can say that the night was filled with larger-than-life hair and costumes, as well as singing and dancing made to entertain.

A good musical has audience members singing along by the end. This evening, I was singing along by the end of the first act.