By Samara Caplan and Laura Gauthier. Laura and Samara spend their days as non-profit unicorns and fill every spare minute exploring the world of musical theatre as BFFs (that’s Broadway Friends Forever).
Laura: Right from the get go this show pulls you in. And I don’t mean when the curtain goes up, I mean when you’re in the lobby of the National Arts Centre and there’s a sign welcoming you to the wedding of Sherry and Jack Jr. Or when you go to your seat in the Babs Asper Theatre and the signs show that you’re either sitting on the bride’s side or the groom’s. I was taken immediately with the whole set up and even felt like I should have worn a fancier dress! The staging was beautiful and it really felt like we were at a posh wedding.
Samara: Yes you did feel instantly pulled in, but when the show first started it was really hard to hear what was going on. I don’t think the actors were wearing microphones, and though there are decent acoustics in the theatre, when someone in the audience whispered to their seatmate or made any noise, it was hard to hear what was going on on stage. But surprisingly, as the first act went on, either the actors projected more or I just adjusted to it—along with other patrons quieting down?—but it was much easier to hear.
Laura: Agreed, the sound got better as we got into it. It’s also the part where they’re setting up the story and introducing characters, but it all flowed well so I didn’t feel like we had missed anything crucial.
It didn’t take long for us to feel like we were sitting at a wedding rather than in a theatre.
Samara: After a brief scene that seems like a flashback that will tie into the story later on, Act 1 takes place after the wedding ceremony, and right before the reception starts. We got a short intro to most of the family members including the mother of the bride, the bride’s uncle and sister, and the groom’s dad, step-mom, uncle, cousin and sister. It didn’t take long for us to feel like we were sitting at a wedding rather than in a theatre. Act 2 takes us into the reception—literally—as the set changes to include multiple tables and a podium, and a few lucky patrons in the front rows got to upgrade their seats to become first-class wedding guests at some of the tables.
Laura: I think they even got some of the drinks served at the wedding! I would have loved being in that participatory element of the show, but I know that’s Samara’s most dreaded fear of theatre—audience participation!
Samara: Seriously—I’m not the actor and I don’t want the spotlight! But the second act brought the hilarious drunken speeches everyone comes to expect from a wedding, and the story unfolds more on this dysfunctional family.
Although I did get pretty confused when the dog took the microphone and started talking. When did the dog all of a sudden learn talk? It did provide some comedic relief through a quiet moment in the show though.
When curtain call came and there were only six actors on stage I was baffled. Each actor must have played a minimum of three or four characters and did so with such ease that I really thought there were more actors in the show.
Laura: Yeah the dog part was a bit odd, but overall I was either cringing at moments—feeling the dread one would if they saw this happening at an actual wedding—or laughing at the absolute cast of misfits and chaos that ensues. When curtain call came and there were only six actors on stage I was baffled. Each actor must have played a minimum of three or four characters and did so with such ease that I really thought there were more actors in the show.
As they come in and out of this wedding party bringing every stereotype and horror story you’ve heard about from other weddings—hopefully not your own!—you’re just so taken with them. Tom Rooney plays a series of characters that really shine. He flawlessly goes from one to the other with simple costume changes and gets to steal the show in quite a few spots. Jason Cadieux must have had fun playing a series of characters, but especially a crotchety grandma who speaks her mind. He was hilarious.
Samara: I mean if nothing else this show will make you leave feeling like your family is completely normal in comparison. Or maybe like you’re not alone.
The Wedding Party continues at the National Arts Centre until Saturday, February 9th. Shows are Wednesday to Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 2pm and 7:30pm and Sunday at 2pm. Tickets range between $63 to $93. The show runs about 2 hours and 30 minutes with intermission.