Ahead of the show’s premiere on Wednesday, the cast and crew of “The Wedding Singer” are working hard to make SUNY Oswego’s first live musical in over two years a success. 

“The Wedding Singer” is the musical theatre adaptation of the 1998 film of the same name, a romantic comedy set in the 1980s that tells the story of a lovestruck wedding-reception singer and his journey to find true love. 

“I think it’s a fun rom-com that anyone can enjoy,” said student Abigail Hines, who plays the role of Julia in the show. “There’s comedy, there’s the romance of it, there’s dancing… I think everyone will really enjoy it.”

The show’s setting in the glitz and glamor of the 1980s requires a particular attitude from the actors, one that must match the loud and colorful aesthetic of the time. 

“I think they’ve had fun immersing themselves in that time period,” said theatre faculty member Jonel Langenfeld, the show’s director. “I think they’re having fun, embracing all the bright colors and the style of dance and the style of singing, because there’s some real rocker numbers in there.” 

Loving the '80s

The style of the 1980s even extends to the stage and character design, where dazzling lighting, costumes and setpieces will decorate Tyler Hall's Waterman Theatre to contribute further to the show’s spirit and themes. 

“We really tried to take a lot of the elements from the 80s into our mix,” said theatre faculty member Greg Brewster, who serves several roles in the crew, as lighting designer, scenic designer and production electrician. “We really did some research and pulled back to my early childhood years, and was able to use that as inspiration for the show.” 

“I think what we have for the show does look really good,” said student Sydnei Williams, the musical’s stage manager. “We have lots of cool effects with the fog and smoke, and having the disco ball for certain songs, and just overall all the line sets we have make the show look cool.” 

Also contributing to the grand energy of the musical is the large ensemble cast, which presents unique challenges for the cast and crew. 

“It’s like organized chaos backstage,” said theatre faculty member Cole Sostak, the show’s production manager and one of three scenic designers. “It has definitely taken a lot of work from the students and also the faculty and staff to come together and collaborate in a way that we haven’t really done before.”

Shifting sets

As a musical adapted from a film, the show changes settings frequently, which requires a variety of sets to be prepared in advance. With a relatively small group working backstage, the crew has to work hard to ensure everything goes smoothly. 

“Movies, they definitely have a lot of different locations, so it can be difficult to have so many set pieces,” said student Kayden McLeod, assistant stage manager. “Most plays that start off as plays, they’ll limit how many scenes they have, or make it so that the scenery is reused a bunch of times as they revisit rooms, but you don’t get that opportunity here.”

After a long hiatus between live musicals, the cast and crew hopes to make “The Wedding Singer” a fun, energetic and lighthearted experience for the audience.

“The biggest reason we picked this show is because we thought it would be fun for our students, fun for our audience to just take a breath after the downer that the last two years have been,” said Sostak. “We really just want to bring everyone back with a big celebration.” 

The show is recommended for those aged 13 and up. It opens Wednesday, April 20, for a preview premiere at 7:30 p.m., with further 7:30 p.m. showings from April 21 to April 24, as well as a Sunday matinee at 2:30 p.m., all in Waterman Theatre.

Tickets are free for Oswego students, and $15 for staff, faculty, alumni and the general public. They are available at tickets.oswego.edu.

–- Written by Collin Knapp of the Class of 2023