Near the end of "The Wedding Singer," as the plot builds to a climax, the principal players suddenly jet off to Las Vegas.
There, title character Robbie (Eric Morris), romantic rival Glen (Philip C. Matthews) and Julia (Libby Anderson), the sweet waitress they're vying for, meet up at a wedding chapel where the action plays out against a gallery of celebrity impersonators, including Ronald Reagan, Imelda Marcos, Cyndi Lauper and Tina Turner.
That these blow-dried faux characters are witnesses to the mawkish denouement is apt since "Singer" — based on the 1998 Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore romantic comedy — is a cheerful paean to manufactured kitsch.
Director R. Kent Knutson's gaudily entertaining production, which is drawing them in by the busloads at Old Log Theatre, pokes fun at the big hair, the tacky outfits and the over-the-top attitudes of the 1980s, in which the show is set.
There's also sweetness and sincerity in this nostalgia party. But the rare true moments are buried under an excess of posing and song quotes, not to mention a rapping grandmother and a Boy George look-alike.
"Singer" screenwriter Tim Herlihy co-wrote this cheesy adaptation with lyricist Chad Beguelin and composer Matthew Sklar. The show had a modest Broadway run in 2006. While many things have been changed from the film version, the essence remains the same: Love trumps material things. I wholeheartedly buy this argument but with one major reservation: Robbie, who lives in his grandmother's basement, is kind of a loser. That he even has a chance with Julia is a testament to her big soul and to the fact that her money-obsessed Wall Street fiancé is such a jerk. (It may also have to do with an all-male creative team.)
My unsolicited advice to Julia, especially after hearing Anderson sing: Run, girl, run!
Anderson has a well-trained soprano, full of color, openness and power. The beauty and honesty of her voice on such numbers as the dreamy "Someday" and the comic "Come Out of the Dumpster," a duet with Morris, sets her apart from the rest of the cast. She shows promise as a classic Broadway star.
The other actors work tirelessly, often hamming it up. Morris excels at the showy parts, especially on musical numbers that require him to be impulsive and immature, like "Somebody Kill Me." He also proves to be a rangy singer, and sort of wins your sympathy in the end.
If Matthews' snippy Glen has no redeeming features, you can hardly blame the actor for such an underwritten character. There's a good range of talent in the big cast, including Broadway veteran Melissa Hart, who plays Grandma Rosie, and Carolyn Schmitz, as best friend Holly, whose delivery of "Right in Front of Your Eyes" is a showstopper.
But their performances only partly explain why people are streaming in to see "Singer." The production offers a rubbernecking opportunity to revisit where some of us have been, and the fun we had under the disco lights.