Take a trip back to the 1980s this weekend, just by traveling to Chippewa Falls High School.
The spring musical, “The Wedding Singer,” is full of 80s pop culture references, which director Joshua Barnard said are hilarious for the kids but will present a huge nostalgia factor to the audience this weekend.
In fact, he encourages it.
“I hope everyone comes in their tight leather pants, jean jackets with their perms because they’re definitely going to feel like they’ve been blasted into the past,” Barnard said.
“The Wedding Singer” is based off a 1990s film of the same name. It follows the story of Robbie Hart, a man who is emotionally invested in all of his relationships, maybe too much so. That comes to the surface but eventually turns out to be a good thing when he meets Julia Sullivan, a waitress at one of the wedding’s where Robbie is singing.
The film also starred Adam Sandler, which Barnard said means it’s “kind of wacky.”
“We’re channeling a lot of the real classic 80s vibes, everything from metal ballads indicative of Motley Crue, Madonna and Cindy Lauper,” he said. “It goes all over the place, but at its core it is an emotional love story between Robbie and Julia.”
The minimalist set makes staging and production simple enough, but Barnard said some of the scenes themselves have proved difficult to get the emotions right.
Up until the last couple practices, there was a lot of tension in the air. That broke Wednesday night, when Barnard saw his favorite part of directing.
“Everyone gets frustrated because it’s not coming together how we want it to, and then all of a sudden you have that moment where everything clicks,” he said. “You see all of that tension go away and the smiles on everyone’s faces.”
Katie Gienapp, who plays Julia, said the hardest thing is producing the confidence to sing, especially emotional songs, in front of an audience.
For that she looks to Robbie, who is played by Chase Bucheger. His confidence — and singing voice — keep her grounded and inspire her.
Taylor Hedrington, who plays Julia’s mother, Angie Sullivan, said her character’s challenges were difficult, only because they were so different from her own personality.
Hedrington described her character as over-bearing and controlling. Though challenging, she decided that also makes the role more fun.
“When you play a character that’s nothing like you, you get to learn a role that’s very different,” she said.
The cast this year has been phenomenal, and Hedrington is thrilled for the public to come see the production.
While it is light and hilarious at times, she thinks it has a great story people can leave feeling fulfilled about.
“It’s not just a love story, it’s much more realistic than that,” Hedrington said. “Robbie goes through heartbreak, which is a part of life. Julia starts to find her identity separate from other people. It’s about being your own person.”
Due to the winter snow storm warning Chippewa County was under until 6 a.m. Saturday, the musical did not have a Friday night performance.
Instead, “The Wedding Singer” will open at 7 p.m. Saturday, with another performance at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors.