Rising Stars' 'Wedding Singer' brings back fluorescent flair of the '80s

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The Riverdale Rising Stars are teleporting audiences back to the glitzy 1980s through “The Wedding Singer,” a musical adaptation of the 1998 romantic comedy starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler.

Not all the members of the young cast were familiar with the flick — part of a canon of rom-coms for a  slightly older generation — but those who were insisted the musical was superior to the movie.

“I think it’s better than the movie,” 15-year-old Kane Kavanagh-Baer, who plays the role of Sammy, the best friend of the main male lead.

Achieving an authentic ’80s style was an all-hands-on-deck operation for the Rising Stars. The fluorescent flair of the decade is evident in the vibrant set and costumes, some of which were dug up from the closets of cast members’ parents. The show’s soundtrack is also reminiscent of the era. The rollicking score is something of a departure from the more traditional musicals the Rising Stars have tackled in the past.

“It’s a completely different, rock n’ roll type show,” explained Shira Schleifer, who plays Linda.

During a dress rehearsal on Dec. 3, 17-year-old Gabrielle Robinson said she enjoyed exploring her character Julia Sullivan — Barrymore’s character in the movie — in the days leading up to opening night.

“For me, it’s kind of my first really big role that I’ve gotten here, so just kind of developing into Julia throughout the past couple of months has been really interesting for me to figure out,” she said. “It didn’t really feel real until Sunday when we started our intense tech week, and that’s when I was like, ‘Oh, I really feel like Julia now.’”

The feel-good vibe of the show’s music has proven infectious among the young ensemble. When Gabrielle and Yanniv Frank, the show’s lead, were asked why Riverdale audiences would enjoy their rendition of “The Wedding Singer,” the two harmonized together and sang out “It’s awesome,” teasing one of the show’s catchy numbers. 

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