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By Audrey Anderson
Hometown Weekly Correspondent
The Wedding Singer, with music by Matthew Sklar, lyrics by Chad Beguelin, and book by Chad Beguelin and Tim Herlihy, was performed by Students Acting to Make a Difference (SAMD) of Needham High School on October 26, 27, and 28 at the Newman Elementary School in Needham.
SAMD was founded 12 years ago by Needham High School students who wanted to use their talents to raise funds for charitable organizations. It is a laudable organization completely run by a student board and advised by faculty member Jonah LeDoux. The talented students selected Unchained at Last for this year’s charity; this organization helps women and girls leave or avoid forced or arranged marriages and rebuild their lives. Cast members collected donations at the end of the play, as the audience was leaving the theater.
“The Wedding Singer” is a clever, upbeat play with witty dialog and the kind of entertaining tunes that stick in your head after the play is over. The original movie starring Adam Sandler was a perfect story to be transformed and enlarged into this delightful musical. The approximately 60-member cast of this production had overflowing energy, slick choreography, strong singing, and a totally awesome ‘80s vibe! The performers’ parents and older audience members laughed heartily at references to parachute pants, giant cell phones, Ivan Boesky, Imelda Marcos, and leg warmers, among others.
Kenneth Crossman, as Robie Hart, had an expressive voice, great timing, and a gift for physical comedy. Lana Perlman, as Julie Sullivan, had a voice that impressed with a clear and bright tone, and she convincingly took on the persona of a young woman falling in love.
Adi Arbel, as Holly, gave a lively performance with her worldly-wise dialogue and outstanding stage presence. Her brilliant dancing was a highlight of the show.
The ensemble’s dancing was well-timed and coordinated, and a weak spot was not present in any of their numbers. Their energetic performance elevated the production.
Musical theater lovers in the MetroWest region should keep Students Acting to Make a Difference on their list of companies to see. Not only do they put on a fantastic show, but this group of admirable young people is also dedicated to help others in need.
Talent and altruism are a winning combination.