– by Suzanna Hughes, actor and assistant director
You’ll be seeing a lot about The Wedding Reception at the moment – because a lot is happening, both in the UK and in Australia, where it’s currently on its first full-on down-under tour. With that in mind, we thought you might like to know a bit about how the show came into being…
The creator and director of Faulty Towers The Dining Experience, Alison Pollard-Mansergh, had celebrated huge success with the dining show format and wanted to work on another show using a similar format. Ali had already worked with two talented comedy actors, Rebecca Norris and David Tremaine, and with them developed the idea of The Wedding Reception.
Becky and Dave worked on the concept and foundations of a script and characters during 2014. They wanted four actors to play nine characters! – so they needed two versatile and skilled comedy improv talent to join them. Casting notices went out, auditions were held, and Danielle Briers and Ben Hood joined the ‘Weddos’ team, formally joining the devising process too.
Together, the four cast worked on the script, each adding character traits and gags. They workshopped until May 2015, when the show was presented as a ‘scratch’ show for invited guests only who ‘dined’ on sandwiches and gave their feedback to the cast at the end.
The show begins…
In May 2015, the show had its first public airing at Sussex CCC during Brighton Fringe. And in August that same year came the show’s biggest test yet: its first Edinburgh Fringe. Faulty Towers The Dining Experience was about to have its 8th successful run there… was The Wedding Reception able to follow in its footsteps?
Well, yes! It was. Running at the same venue as Faulty, the show was performed in a back room decked out in ribbon and fairy lights. Pictures of the happy couple, confetti and diamond sprinkles were set on tables and B’est Restaurant became host to the wedding reception of the year, 16 times to be exact. The show at that time had a ‘Royal Wedding’ theme. Well, the bride and groom were called Will and Kate, after all, and Kate’s Mum Lynne couldn’t let that go uncelebrated, could she?!! The show was a success, so it was decided to develop it further and to bring on a second cast: Oliver Harrison and I came across from our Faulty roles (as Manuel and Sybil) to act as Weddos characters Ricky/Ray and Lynne/Marge.
March 2016 saw the addition of Katie Cooper and Stacey Evans to the cast. The following month, the original team of Becky, Dave, Dani and Ben flew off to tour Australia via Raffles Singapore – Lynne was in her element there, what with her Singapore Slings! Poor Raymond couldn’t get her out of the bar…
August 2016 saw the show at its second Edinburgh Fringe Festival – a ‘proper’ run this time, given that it was now better developed and ready for a more public stage. Thus it opened at the prestigious 4-star Principal Hotel on George Street. This run also saw the arrival of Jack Baldwin as Ricky/Ray. The show was a hit, winning 4-star and 5-star across the board: press and punters alike loved the mad-cap comedy feast of love, laughter, tears and tantrums.
Still in 2016, we opened a residency at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in London’s Covent Garden and also went on national tours, playing at hotels and theatres around the UK. All the time, the show and the characters were developing, changing and updating; for instance, the Royal theme was dropped completely.
All grown up
This year has seen the show mature. We continued our run in London until April, have toured the UK, held a triumphant full season at Edinburgh Fringe, taken on more performers, and one team of cast are currently sunning themselves on an even bigger tour of Australia. All of which we plan to repeat next year…
And Dave, our brave original bridegroom Will, has had no less than six wives! I’m happy to report that he still loves them all.
The continued success of The Wedding Reception relies on terrific comedy writing, relatable, lovable characters, hugely skilful actors, and a mix of singing, dancing and damn good fun!
We’d love to invite you next time Kate and Will get married!
In the short term, that means you can see us in London on 24 and 25 November and on 16 December, and in Australia for the remaining six dates of the tour until 24 November.
* Read more about the cast’s exploits in Aus in their Diaries Down Under.
First Brighton Fringe 2015! – Ben Hood, Dave Tremaine, Dani Briers, Becky Norris