Groton Regional Theater presents the comic musical "The Wedding Singer"

Jon Carpentier play the role of Robbie Hart, the character made famous by Adam Sandler, in the Groton Regional Theatre's production of the musical 'The Wedding Singer.'
Jon Carpentier play the role of Robbie Hart, the character made famous by Adam Sandler, in the Groton Regional Theatre's production of the musical "The Wedding Singer."

After performing such wildly disparate musicals as "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," "Rocky Horror Show" and "Annie" over the past few years, Groton Regional Theater is getting into the song-and-dance spirit again. It's producing the stage version of the romantic comedy "The Wedding Singer."

The 2006 Broadway show is, like the movie original, a nice love story, as director Vic Panciera notes - boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back. In this case, the boy is wedding singer Robbie, who's heartbroken over being jilted by his girlfriend - but then falls for waitress Julia.

The roles played on film by Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore are taken on with GRT by Jon Carpentier from Sterling and Alyson Fowler from Norwich.

The show's book is by Tim Herlihy, who wrote the movie version.

"Even if you've seen the movie, you don't know what the show is about because isn't exactly like the movie," Panciera says.

An element, of course, that you didn't get in the film is the score by Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin. It bubbles with 1980s-style music, and Panciera says the rhymes are quite clever.

"The music is just as charming as the movie was, and that's what I like," Panciera says.

One complication that's made the run-up to GRT's opening night interesting: because of work schedules, the two main actors hadn't actually rehearsed together until Sunday. (He could only rehearse weekends, she could only do weekdays.)

They have, though, acted in the same show in the past.

Carpentier says, "Alyson and I had worked together before, and there was definite chemistry onstage."

He told Panciera as much, and the director cast them despite their conflicting schedules.

Besides, Panciera says, "They are so right for the roles that you can't say no."

He explains, "The female lead is very innocent. She's the epitome of innocence. She doesn't even know she's in love with this guy. ... (Fowler) is just delightful to watch, with that innocent voice of hers.

"Jon is just an energetic entity that has a magnificent voice. There a lot of high notes, and he hits them every single time."

Carpentier grew up loving the movie version of "The Wedding Singer." In addition, he plays guitar and has performed in his fair share of stage musicals, so this role appealed to him. He says he knew "it's a part I would really be able to have fun with. ... He's a very sweet character, but there's an explosive side to him that gets very colorful and angry."

Even though Adam Sandler's performance as Robbie looms large, Carpentier has tried to make the character his own - although, he adds, "when I do the flip-out and anger, there's definitely a little Sandler inspiration."

The 1980s setting, of course, gets a sartorial nod in the more than 200 costumes in GRT's production. Panciera has been out searching for era-appropriate outfits, finding a pair of parachute pants at a thrift shop in Stonington and a Van Halen T-shift from the 1984 tour online.

As for giving performers '80s hair, Panciera says, "We're just going to puff them up as much as we can."

And choreographer Laura Kenyon has called upon all sorts of 1980s dances for the production numbers, including some "Thriller" moves.

"The Wedding Singer," Groton Senior Center, 102 Newtown Road (Route 117), Groton; opens Friday and runs through July 6; 8 p.m. Fri. and Sat. and 2 p.m. Sun.; no show July 4; $15 in advance, $20 at door;


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