Pierson High School Going Back in Time with ‘The Wedding Singer’

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From left, Graham DiLorenzo, Anna Francesca Schiavoni, Yanni Bitis, Reilly Rose Schombs, Thomas Lawton, Jack Nolan, Eva Doyle and Lola Lama strike a pose in “The Wedding Singer” at Pierson High School. Christine Sampson photo

Reilly Rose Schombs is neither a 1980s child nor a child of the ‘90s. Still, the
Pierson High School senior decided not to watch the 1998 film “The Wedding
Singer,” a 1980s throwback story, or the later musical version ahead of her
performance in the lead role of Julia for Pierson’s production of the show this
week.

“I want to kind of create the character on my own without the influence of the
other versions,” Reilly said this week of the “quirky, cute” role that she has really
connected with, “but I did make a Pinterest board that had a lot of ‘80s outfits and
‘80s inspiration. … I’m definitely going to watch it after we do the show.”

The cast and crew plans to party like it’s 1985, the year the story takes place,
with bright lights, 10 lively dance numbers — and a ton of throwback references
and humor. Plus, the love story is totally rad.

“The music in the show is so much fun and there’s tons of dancing,” Reilly
said. “I think the bottom line is everything in this show comes down to love, loving
yourself, loving the people around you, and the difference between real love that
matters and love that doesn’t — kind of coming to your own understanding of
what love is. I think everybody can relate to that on some level.”

Reilly Rose Schombs and Thomas Lawton in character for “The Wedding Singer.” Christine Sampson photo

Reilly is joined by a cast filled with seniors who have grown up in Pierson’s
theater program together. Earlier in this school year, several seniors and a few juniors, too, decided to stage the musical “13” on their own for a class project, a throwback to one of the first productions they ever did together.

Senior Thomas Lawton stars as Robbie, a lovesick wedding singer who is abandoned at the altar on his own big day. Senior Graham DiLorenzo plays
Glenn, Julia’s philandering boyfriend. Senior Anna Francesca Schiavoni plays
Rosie, Robbie’s grandmother, who encourages him to pursue his true love. Senior
Jack Nolan plays Sammy, Robbie’s friend and band mate.

“Every year the musical here is just a blast,” Thomas said. “Everyone’s just so
talented and it makes the whole experience that much better.”

VIDEO: Watch a preview of Pierson’s “The Wedding Singer”

The show’s director, Bethany Dellapolla, chose the show because she knew
everyone would have fun and because the show, at its core, is about love.

“I think we can all relate to that,” she said. “It’s funny. There’s so much love
and heart. We need more love in this world, so getting to do that and putting out
this message of finding love and finding the right people, that’s why I chose it.”

Unlike Reilly and the rest of the cast, Dellapolla is an “80s baby,” she said.

“It’s really special that this is in the ‘80s,” she said. “That’s going to take us all
back a little bit. Seeing the references and teaching the kids some of the ‘80s
references has been really fun.”

Anna Francesca Schiavoni and Yanni Bitis in character in “The Wedding Singer.” Christine Sampson photo

“The Wedding Singer” is a departure from Dellapolla’s first two shows with
Pierson, “Anything Goes” in 2018 and “The Drowsy Chaperone” in 2017. The
director, who also runs theater clinics at Bay Street Theater outside her work at Pierson, said the students are doing a great job with the rock-n-roll style songs.

“It’s a brand-new style of show this year,” Dellapolla said. “We’ve done a couple of classic musicals the past two years, so this contemporary, fun, belty,
high-energy show is very exciting.”

Thomas agreed, saying, “I just love how fun and funny and lighthearted it is, while still carrying a serious message.”

The cast and crew had a tighter turnaround time for their production this year,
with two weeks less in their production schedule to be able to produce the show.

“It takes a lot of focus and patience. That’s the toughest thing right now,”
Thomas said.

The curtain rises on “The Wedding Singer” on Thursday, April 11.

“Everybody’s been working really hard,” Reilly said. “Everything’s coming
together really nicely. It’s a lot of fun.”

Pierson High School’s Drama Club will perform “The Wedding Singer” at 7
p.m. on Thursday, April 11, and Friday, April 12, and at 2 and 7 p.m. on
Saturday, April 13. Tickets are $10; for reservations, email
agalanty@sagharborschools.org with the subject line “Tickets.” Tickets must then
be paid for and picked up between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. within three days of
ordering; students may pick up tickets during lunch periods or Academic Support.
Ticket emails sent on Saturday and Sunday will not be read; tickets may be
available at the door for those shows. Doors will open half an hour before each
show for any available tickets. More information may be found online at
sagharborschools.org.

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