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Adam Sandler-inspired musical closes BTC season

Published 2:17 pm, Tuesday, May 21, 2013

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  • John Stegmaier (center left) and Laura Piacenza rehearse with the company of "The Wedding Singer," which is being presented by the Bridgeport Theatre Company from May 24 to June 9. Photo: Contributed Photo
    John Stegmaier (center left) and Laura Piacenza rehearse with the company of "The Wedding Singer," which is being presented by the Bridgeport Theatre Company from May 24 to June 9. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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Do you miss those days of Billy Idol, "Pretty in Pink" and leg warmers?

Well, the Bridgeport Theatre Company has a show for you

Lovers of all things 1980s will want to check out the BTC's season-closing production, "The Wedding Singer," starting performances Friday, May 24, at the Downtown Cabaret Theatre in Bridgeport.

The 2006 Broadway musical is based on the popular 1998 Adam Sandler comedy that took an affectionate look back at the 1980s and the struggles of musician Robbie Hart, who wants to stop playing cover tunes at weddings and start writing his own music.

The stage show was nominated for several Tony Awards -- including best musical -- and launched a three-year national tour.

The song score by composer Matthew Sklar and lyricist Chad Beguelin was cited by the Tony nominators as well -- it's an affectionate pastiche of everything from "Thriller" to "Flashdance" to lots of 1980s pop singers.

"There's nothing too heavy in the show. It's fluff, but it's just a lot of fun," director Ricky Altamirano said of the musical last week, adding that he thought fans of the stage versions of "Xanadu" and "9 to 5" would relate to the send-up of pop culture and fashion from 30 years ago.

"It's about the '80s, which seems a little more carefree to us now," the director said of the nostalgic lure of the show for the kids of that era who are now in their 30s and 40s.

"I think if you're a fan of the movie you'll be a fan of the show," Altamirano added.

"People just seem to love the material. It's definitely one of Adam Sandler's best movies," he said.

The mix of music and romantic comedy is being augmented by audience participation elements, including a 1980s costume contest at the Saturday night shows and lots of vintage photos from way back then that have been sent to the BTC by fans.

"We're inviting people to do their (wedding) proposals on stage, too," Altamirano said, laughing.

More than a few cabaret patrons have been married and had their receptions in the venue, so that aspect of the place's history is being utilized in the show, the director added.

Altamirano lives in New York City, but works frequently at the Downtown Cabaret and with the BTC, so he has a strong sense of the Fairfield County talent pool.

"I knew we could pull together a pretty strong cast for this one," he said.

The director offered high praise to the BTC artistic director Eli Newsom for putting together a strong band for the show.

"That's one of his specialties," Altamirano said of Newsom's musical chops. "He always insists on live music and live musicians ... and we've got some great guys playing."

jmeyers@ctpost.com; 203-330-6332; http://twitter.com/joesview or http://blog.ctnews.com/meyers

Downtown Cabaret Theatre, 263 Golden Hill St., Bridgeport. Friday, may 24-Sunday, June 9. $28-$18. www.bridgeporttheatre.org.