Reprinted from The Independent Weekly 
26 MAR 2008

The Wedding Singer

The Wedding Singer
Memorial Auditorium, Progress Energy Center—Movies-turned-musicals (and movies-turned-musicals-turned-movies) are becoming increasingly common fare on Broadway. After the success of the stage version of Hairspray, New Line Cinema was looking for another of its films to “musicalize” and found it in The Wedding Singer, the 1998 Adam Sandler/ Drew Barrymore romantic comedy. After 284 performances and five Tony nominations, the musical closed in 2006—but has been revived as a national tour that arrives in Raleigh this week.

Tim Herlihy, who wrote the original screenplay and co-wrote the book to the stage version, says he’s “never quite figured out” why The Wedding Singer has such an appeal. Indeed, the stage version spawned a cult of “Wed Heads” who repeatedly attended the show, sometimes dressed as the characters and singing along with the lyrics. “I don’t know where they got the money to go to all these shows!” Herlihy says with a laugh. “I guess people just relate to the story.”

Herlihy says The Wedding Singer originated when Sandler, whom he’s known since they were college roommates, had the idea for a film about a wedding singer who gets left at the altar. “I was listening to the radio show Lost in the ’80s, and I said, ‘I want to do a movie set in the 1980s,” Herlihy recalls. “So of course, we thought, ‘Why don’t we do a story about a wedding singer in the 1980s?'” At the time, Herlihy didn’t think the film was that different than his previous frat-friendly collaborations with Sandler, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore. “I think it was the chemistry (between Sandler and Barrymore) and what was going on in our own lives—I had just gotten married, and maybe that affected the script,” Herlihy says.

Adapting Singer into a play “wasn’t too much of a stretch” for Herlihy, who says it’s “the only movie I’ve written with headphones on.” He says Sandler’s given his stamp of approval to the stage version, which has also recently opened international productions in London and Tokyo. Does he have any stories about Sandler’s college days that can be printed in a family newspaper? “He once put a whole plate of chicken parmigiana on his head,” Herlihy says. “It was something you had to be there for.” —Zack Smith

The Wedding Singer runs through Sunday, March 30. Visit www.broadwayseriessouth.com for more information.

Published by Zack

Zack Smith is a writer and journalist. He has written for such web sites and publications as Newsarama.com, the Independent Weekly of Durham NC, Triangle Business Journal, Comic Book Resources and the Lynchburg News and Advance. He has a Master's in Journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, and a degree in English with minors in Film Studies and Creative Writing from NC State University. He also writes children's books.

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