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{BY TED HOOVER}

HERE’S A theatrical curio — a musical version of the 1998 Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore film The Wedding Singer, now at the Benedum Center thanks to the folks at Pittsburgh CLO. If you drew up a list of “The World’s Most Unnecessary Musicals,” The Wedding Singer would be somewhere near the top. Though the film was a success, I’m not sure anyone thought it deserved a second (singing and dancing) life. It’s amazing to think of the time and effort Matthew Sklar (music), Chad Beguelin (lyrics), and Beguelin and Tim Herlihy (book) put into this adaptation for its 2006 Broadway opening … and sad to think the show closed only seven months later. (There’s a light on Broadway for every broken heart.) Here’s the précis: Robbie Hart, a professional singer at weddings, is jilted by his fiancée and falls in love with Julia, a waitress engaged to an obnoxious Wall Street type. There’s laughter, tears, many merry mix-ups … and that, dear children, is the story of how I met your grandmother.

THE WEDDING SINGER

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carnegielibrary.org {PHOTO COURTESY OF MATT POLK}

Jenna Ushkowitz and J. Michael Zygo in The Wedding Singer, at Pittsburgh CLO

fect counterpoint. His low-key demeanor is as endearing as Ushkowitz’, and he’s got a gloriously strong and supple voice. Jackie Burns, Brandon Espinoza, Greg Kamp and Kirsten Scott round out a finely polished cast. If the CLO is looking for a quote, it’s welcome to use this: “The Wedding Singer is better than I expected.” I NF O @PGH C IT YPAPE R . C O M

continues through Sun., Aug. 2. Benedum Center, 719 Liberty Ave., Downtown. $20-65.75. 412-456-6666 or www.trustarts.org

OUT OF SEASON {BY GWENDOLYN KISTE}

Considering that you know the evening’s schematic from the first 10 minutes, I give Sklar, Beguelin and Herlihy credit for making this well-worn journey mildly interesting. One of their tricks is lampooning the story’s time period, the 1980s. Hair, costumes and music are a fun pastiche, and gags about Ivan Boesky, Starbucks, Mr. T. and Flashdance are gently amusing. But one joke about the battery size of old-school cell phones is all you can make. And when the spoofing runs out of gas, there’s nothing left to do. Jenna Ushkowitz (whom you’ll know as Tina from TV’s Glee) is an outstanding musicalcomedy performer. Charming and energetic, with a beautifully trained voice and a precise manner, she brightens every scene she’s in as Julia. J. Michael Zygo’s comfortable presence as Robbie is the per-

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THE HOLIDAYS and family — is there any combination more awkward? That’s a question at the forefront of Pine, South Park Theatre’s latest production that follows the White family through a bittersweet Christmas as matriarch Rita (Joyce Miller) and her grown children mark the five-year anniversary of eldest son Colin’s death. Meanwhile, the ghost of Colin (David Craft) mills about the house, trying to speak to his family, albeit with varying success. Scenic designer Jill Ekis effectively sets the mood, crafting a rustic family home and adjoining Christmas-tree farm that evoke the spirit of the season. Staging a Christmas play in the middle of summer is an interesting artistic choice — one that could have paid off for director Vince Ventura and his cast if the source material had been stronger. Playwright Eugenie Carabatsos

IT’S A WELL-WORN JOURNEY THAT’S MILDLY INTERESTING.

attempts to paint family dysfunction with equal strokes of drama and comedy. But while the premise is certainly rife with possibilities, this story never quite gels. With jarring scene transitions and clunky character introductions, the first act is more uneven than the second, though one clever moment just before intermission does set up the story for its homestretch. While mostly disagreeable in the opening scenes, Rita turns a corner in the second act, delivering a poignant monologue amidst a field of discarded Christmas trees that leaves you wishing for more moments to match that intensity. Other standout performances come from Dan Spanner as beleaguered youngest son Teddy — who might or might not be able to see the ghostly Colin — and Ashley Rice as Colin’s former fiancée, Rachel, who’s at last ready to move on with her life. Both actors imbue their performances with a naturalism that helps anchor this sometimes overwrought story.

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PINE

continues through Aug. 8. South Park Theatre, Corrigan Drive and Brownsville Road, South Park. $12. 412-831-8552 or www.southparktheatre.com

However, any shortcomings in the production are not the fault of the cast. The actors play the quiet moments well, and almost everyone turns in a heartfelt speech before it’s over. But too many scenes rely on superficial squabbling and trite emotions. Ultimately, like Christmas in July, this production feels out of place. INF O @PGH C IT YPAPE R . C O M

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Profile for Pittsburgh City Paper

July 29, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 30

July 29, 2015  

Pittsburgh City Paper Volume 25 Issue 30