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21 Jun 2018

A Musical Worth a Toast: 'The Wedding Singer' Comes to the Palm Canyon Theatre

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The cast of The Wedding Singer rehearses to prepare for the July 6 opening. The cast of The Wedding Singer rehearses to prepare for the July 6 opening.

Everybody loves a good wedding. However, whether the nuptials are for a family member, an old friend, or an ex, the best part of the wedding is the reception.

“All right! Everyone out on the dance floor—no exceptions! I can feel all the happiness in here tonight!” This is how Robbie Hart starts off a wedding reception. He knows what he’s doing; after all, he is a professional wedding singer.

It’s now been two decades since Adam Sandler’s hit film The Wedding Singer came out. Let me offer you a quick recap: In 1985, Robbie Hart—New Jersey’s favorite wedding singer and rock-star wannabe—is the life of the party … that is, until his fiancée leaves him at the altar. Heartbroken and devastated, he starts to make every wedding as disastrous as his own. Meanwhile, Robbie meets a waitress named Julia, and he falls for her … but Julia is about to be married to a powerful businessman. Robbie must figure out how to win her heart before it’s too late.

That 1998 film was turned into a 2006 Broadway musical, which today is being produced by Palm Canyon Theatre. Catch the play from July 6-15.

Anthony Nannini is the show’s director and choreographer. Anthony attended a musical-theater conservatory for two years in New York City, working on Broadway himself. After the glow of the lights wore off, he moved to the valley and has now been here for more than six years. He’s become a Palm Canyon Theatre regular, both as an actor and a choreographer—but The Wedding Singer will be Nannini’s valley directing debut.

The movie is famous for its soundtrack, so I had to ask Nannini if those songs made it into the musical. “A lot of the show is original music now—it’s not a jukebox,” he said. Of course, Robbie’s “Somebody Kill Me” is indeed included.

As for plot: “There is a lot of it that follows the same general storyline (as the film), but with new subplots to jazz it up a little bit,” Nannini said.

While The Wedding Singer was on Broadway for less than a year, the musical did make an impression, garnering five Tony Award nominations. “The songs are super-catchy and fun,” Nannini said. “It was very well-received during its time on Broadway. When I would go for auditions when I lived in New York, I would hear the girls using ‘A Note From Linda’ or duets using the song ‘Come Out of the Dumpster.’ I heard these numbers and just thought they were great!”

Nannini said he’s excited about helming this production. “This is my chance to prove my directing skills. This play has the same kind of stupid humor that I can relate to and understand, so it’s totally perfect for me.”

Most of the valley’s theater companies go dark over the entire summer—but the Palm Canyon Theatre does not.

“The Palm Canyon Theatre has been here 22 years and averages 14 or 15 different shows per season,” Nannini said. “During the summer, they offer a kids’ camp for local kids who are interested in experience on the stage with professionals and semi-professionals. They offer kids’ classes on makeup, acting, dancing and comedy, and then they put on a show for the parents, but anyone can come to it. (It is) also a nonprofit educational theatre, so they try to incorporate kids into the shows.” They have already announced the next season of shows, so it doesn’t look like they are slowing down anytime soon.

The Wedding Singer will be performed at 7 p.m., Thursday; 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday; and 2 p.m., Sunday, from Friday, July 6, through Sunday, July 15, at the Palm Canyon Theatre, 538 N. Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs. Tickets are $32 to $36. For tickets or more information, call 760-323-5123, or visit www.palmcanyontheatre.org.

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