"Somebody Kill Me" isn't often a thought that comes to mind when talking weddings. But for fans of "The Wedding Singer," the 1998 Adam Sandler film turned musical, that's just the ticket. The tale of a beleaguered musician dumped at the altar heads to The Empty Space this weekend.
Director Abby Bowles-Votaw, who said the comedy is a personal favorite of hers, has been waiting for the right time to bring the show to Bakersfield.
"I have had the musical script for some time and knew the Empty Space would be a perfect intimate theater to produce it," she wrote in an email. "I pitched the show to the board and I was fortunate to have them put the show in the season."
For those not familiar with "Singer," it's set in 1985 when New Jersey wedding performer and would-be rocker Robbie Hart (Alex Mitts) is preparing for his own walk down the aisle. After his fiancee, Linda (Amanda Harmon), jilts him, he spirals into despair, sharing his misery while working wedding receptions. A bright spot emerges when he falls for Julia (Amelia Mejia), a waitress engaged to slick businessman Glen (Jordan Fulmer), but he has to act quickly to find his happily ever after.
The show also stars Trenton Benet, Shawn Rader, Kelsea Johnson, Julie Gaines and Lindi Pellett.
While the story could have happened in any era, "The Wedding Singer" is enhanced by being set in the decade of neon, shoulder pads, yuppies, new wave music and Swatch watches.
"This musical is the epitome of 1980s culture, fashion and music," Bowles-Votaw wrote. "Everything from the set, the costumes and the music embraces what the 1980s were all about."
For many of the performers that required some research.
"Most of the cast was not even born in the '80s," the director wrote. "There are only a handful of us involved in the process that were actually around during the decade. So it took explanation of the lines and educating the cast on popular dances, crazes and fashions of the time.
"It definitely made me feel old!"
Choreographer Jennifer Skiby Plunkett also helped the cast get in step with the dancing and music of the time.
And what the performers may have lacked in cultural IQ, they made up for in enthusiasm for the show.
"Each cast member brings forth an insane amount of energy that you can't help but love every scene," Bowles-Votaw wrote.
She mentioned that 10 of the performers are new to The Empty Space and she was happy with her ensemble.
"I love bringing people over to theaters they haven't worked with," she wrote. "It's wonderful to see how everyone bonded so quickly and formed an ensemble that works so hard to produce an incredible product."
Along with an excited cast and crew, Bowles-Votaw hopes to have an audience excited to head back to the '80s.
"One of my favorite lines in the show is 'Love will always find you.' My hope is that, in this crazy world and with everything going on in our nation that each person can find love.
"Let this cast make you escape whatever you might have going on in life and make you believe in love, friendship and rad dancing."
"The Wedding Singer" runs Fridays and Saturdays through June 22.
In addition to the regular seating, ranging from $10 to $20, there will be VIP tables ($60 for two guests) that put you right in the action with front-row seating as well as a bottle of champagne, juice and wedding favors to share.
The theater's Space Bar will roll out some themed cocktails for the new show, serving Purple Rain (vodka, cranberry and pineapple juices, Blue Curacao and grenadine), Gremlin (gin, melon liquor, cucumber mint sparkling water and fresh lime juice) and Miami Spice (spiced rum, pink lemonade, cherry juice and ginger ale) for $5 each.