“Zoey’s Perfect Wedding”
TheaterWorks Hartford is currently presenting a dynamite and extremely funny production of Matthew Lopez’s play, “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding.” As skillfully directed by Rob Ruggiero and performed by a splendid cast, this production offers a lot of laughs, as well as some unexpectedly touching moments. Belying the title of the play, Zoey’s wedding is anything but perfect, and it is the many mishaps during the show which provide so much entertainment. On Brian Sidney Bembridge’s terrific set, which partially envelopes the audience, it almost feels like one is actually part of the action onstage. “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” runs a blissful ninety minutes (with no intermission) and, while no one would want a wedding like the one portrayed in the show, this production at TheaterWorks Hartford is a great deal of fun from beginning to end.
To provide some information about the plot of “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding,” the show takes place in 2008 and it begins with Zoey’s friends gradually coming onstage for the wedding reception and finding that they have been seated in an isolated corner of the room. Also, there is much talk about when the wedding guests are finally going to eat. On top of that, the deejay, named DJ, (the excellent Esteban Carmona) has decided to play his own playlist of songs, ignoring the playlist given to him by the wedding planner, Missy (the delightful Hallie Eliza Friedman). During the course of the show, many secrets are unearthed, friendships are tested, and other various surprises pop up. Much of the action is very funny, but there are serious undertones lurking beneath the merriment.
Director Rob Ruggiero has directed this show wonderfully and he has a fantastic group of actors in his cast. Among the characters in the show are the married couple, Rachel and Charlie (portrayed expertly by Blair Lewin and Stephen Stocking, respectively), as well as Sammy (the outstanding Hunter Ryan Herdlicka), whose boyfriend is unable to make it to the wedding because of illness. The playwright has given both Rachel and, especially, Sammy a great deal of knockout funny lines, which the performers deliver with savage wit and bite. The running gag of the wedding meal being drastically delayed results in the guests getting very drunk. The outcome is a particularly devastating, Tequila-induced wedding toast by Rachel, which actress Blair Lewin delivers sensationally. Hunter Ryan Herdlicka also has his share of zingers, and it must be noted that the adult language and situations in “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” may not be for younger viewers. That said, “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” is just about ideal for everyone else.
It is a little later in the show when the audience first sees Zoey (played by the zany and endearingly idiosyncratic Rachel B. Joyce) and one can see the strain and horror across her face as everything that can possibly go wrong at her wedding comes crashing down around her. The director keeps the pacing of “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” going smoothly and he also works fabulously with his designers. In addition to designing the appropriate set, Brian Sidney Bembridge has done a great job with the evocative lighting design. Harry Nadal’s costume design is totally on the mark, particularly the outcome of Zoey’s wedding dress after the cutting of the cake. The sound design by Melanie Chen Cole is just about perfect and it is fun to hear the various songs played throughout the wedding reception.
“Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” at TheaterWorks Hartford is a real blast and, at the performance I attended, the character of Charlie was played by understudy Stephen Stocking, who was extremely good. A few years ago, TheaterWorks Hartford presented a different play by Matthew Lopez, “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” which was quite a heady and hilarious evening of laughter. The production of “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” shares a lot of the qualities with that previous play, so be prepared for more than a few wickedly funny and deliriously zany scenes in this current show, as well as some surprisingly insightful moments. TheaterWorks Hartford has a real winner in “Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” and, if you will, it is highly recommended that you get on this wedding’s guest list.
“Zoey’s Perfect Wedding” continues performances at TheaterWorks in Hartford, CT through June 5, 2022. For tickets, please visit http://www.twhartford.org or call the box office at 860-527-7838.
Photo: Rachel B. Joyce, Blair Lewin, and Hallie Eliza Friedman
Photo by Mike Marques