As SUNY Oswego’s theatre students prepare for their next show, “The Wedding Singer,” they also gear up to perform a musical to a live audience for the first time since the fall 2019. 

The show, which will run April 21 to 24 in Tyler Hall’s Waterman Theatre, is a musical adaptation of the hit romantic comedy film of the same name. Theatre faculty member Jonel Langenfeld will direct, with musical direction by Alan Martin of the music faculty.

The performance, set in the 1980s, features a 17-person ensemble cast, a far cry from the online and small-cast plays Oswego has run in the last couple of years due to COVID restrictions. 

“There’s a big energy,” said Nick Sweet, who plays Robbie, the show’s lead. “It’s constantly pumping through everyone as we know we’re the next big thing. For the first time in three years, and we’re just excited to be back on stage, excited to be singing.”

Other cast members agree that their anticipation of a return to live-audience performance has been invigorating as they ramp up to the premiere. 

“We’re so amped to get back into the theater and doing live shows that I think it’s really starting to seep in everything we do,” said Philip Jones, who plays Glen in the show. “In rehearsals, we’re all just jumping around and yelling and having a good time.”

Performances at SUNY Oswego during the pandemic era have largely been conducted virtually, a condition made necessary by COVID-19 restrictions. Now that fans are back in seats, the cast has pointed out the difference they make for a performer. 

Live energy

“One of my favorite parts of doing live theater, having that, you can feel the audience’s energy, you can feel the laughter or them resonating with a character,” said Abigail Hines, who plays Julia in the show. “That’s why I love live theater, compared to doing things like TV and movies or doing Zoom shows, although those have their own perks.”

The spontaneity of an in-person audience can be a big bonus for performers.

“Part of the aspect of live theater is that anything could happen,” said Sweet. ‘With the audience there, it makes things sort of unpredictable, but also, just, you feed off that energy.”

During the pandemic, preparation for roles was limited by restrictions. That means that even the nature of rehearsal has changed, as actors are able to act out scenes with fellow actors, face to face.

“With doing online shows, a lot of the work is on you, which is very similar to doing shows in person. However, you’re not there to work with your scene partner, which is such an important part of any acting project,” said Hines. “That excitedness of picking up another actor’s energy and playing off of it is back, and that’s what really makes live theater magical to me.”

Cast members said that the show will be a spectacle, and that the cast and crew alike are going all out to make sure that SUNY Oswego’s first live musical in over two years is a special one, for both those that attend and those who are putting in the work to make it happen. 

Thinking big

“This is the first big show that we’ve had here for maybe four years since I’ve been here,” said Jones. “A big ensemble, big numbers, big dances, big songs, lots of lights, you know? And it’s going to be something to remember.”

The cast is extremely excited to show off what they have been working on, and they believe that excitement will result in a great performance when everything is said and done. 

“Everyone is giving their all. We’re putting all of our time, effort, hopes and dreams into the show,” said Sweet. “It’s going to be really good. We hope the audience is really coming and having a fun time. We want them to see how much fun we’re having, and hope they can have that much fun seeing the show.”

The show will open with a 7:30 p.m. preview on Thursday, April 21, with additional 7:30 p.m. showings on April 22, 23 and 24, as well as a 2 p.m. Sunday matinee on April 24. The show is recommended for those 13 years of age and older.

Tickets –- free for SUNY Oswego students and $15 for faculty, staff, alumni and the general public –- are available at

-- Written by Collin Knapp of the Class of 2023