ACT presents 'The Wedding Singer'
Morgan Sailor/Special to AFN

After rehearsing for just eight days, the youth at Ahwatukee Children's Theatre (ACT) are set to act and sing their hearts out in this weekend's musical presentation of "The Wedding Singer."

"It's the shortest rehearsal we've ever had," said Michele Rubino, executive director of the non-profit as well as director of this particular show.

Despite the turnaround time of just under two weeks from the first day production began, Rubino said she is confident the cast of 35 will pull it off. Although there are a few new faces, most of the performers have been with the theater before.

"The plot is just like the movie and a lot of lines are from the movie," said Rubino, adding that they will be performing the musical version that was on Broadway in 2006.

The cast is comprised entirely of high school-aged students, with the exception of the grandmother, who is being played by one of the member's real-life grandma. Rubino said the PG-13 musical works well for this age group which has fun with the fact that it is a bit on the edgy side. She also enjoys it for personal reasons.

"Going back to the ‘80s is always fun because that was the last time I was cool," said a joking Rubino, who adds that the show will offer a couple hours of solid fun and laughs.

The musical centers around the life of wedding singer Robbie Hart, who begins a downward spiral after being dumped at the alter on his own wedding day. When all seems lost he finds himself falling in love with his friend, Julia, while helping her to plan her own wedding. Not sure of her feelings toward him, the musical takes a person through the utter ruin of a broken heart to the awkwardness of a potentially unrequited love.

Even though the theme is something most can relate to, one of the biggest selling points for the musical might just be its abundance in not only music by hair bands, but also bad hairstyles.

"I'm so excited for the Jheri Curl," said Kane Jungbluth-Murry. "I'm going to spray it every time I get on stage."

Jungbluth-Murry, 19, joined the theater three years ago and will be playing the part of Sammy, best friend to Robbie Hart.

Katie Broyles, who will turn 17 on Saturday, is looking forward to playing the part of Julia. With girl-next-door looks she even bears an uncanny resemblance to actress Drew Barrymore, who plays the part in the film version.

"The thing I like about Julia is that I don't really need to act to be her," said Broyles, who laughingly added an exception for the scene where her character is drunk.

Broyles joined the theater six years ago after her parents read a newspaper article about the organization. When she first arrived she said singing was not her strong suit, but after years of voice lessons she beat out the competition for a lead in the musical.

One of the newer, and self-admittedly oddest, additions to the theater is Matt Geranen. The 17-year-old football, basketball and baseball player will be portraying the rather flamboyant character of George.

It might be an odd fit but he transitions easily from athletic, all-American, boyish charm to a persona that is distinctly different from his own.

"I always thought about acting," he said, but it was a friend who gave him the added encouragement "to get out there and do it."

Abby Van Vianen, 17, will be playing the part of Julia's best friend, Holly. Active with the theater since fourth grade, she credits her experiences at ACT with helping to develop her social skills and build confidence.

"This place has just turned my whole life around," said Van Vianen, "I'm not afraid of people anymore."

"The Wedding Singer" at ACT, 5051 E. Elliot Road, begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, and continues with shows at 3 and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at the door or by calling (480) 705-9319.

• Morgan Sailor is interning this semester for the Ahwatukee Foothills News. She is a senior at Arizona State University.

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