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Love in New Jersey: Eden students will perform ‘The Wedding Singer’ for this year’s musical

CASUALTY OF LOVE — Eden Junior-Senior High School will present “The Wedding Singer” musical from Thursday – Sunday, March 6 – 9. The show will star Andrew Pszonak as Robbie Hart, Kassaundra Funch as Julia Sullivan, Katie Schnaufer as Holly and Jon Bley as Sammy. Photo submitted by Sue Schnaufer.
HAMBURG — Love will blossom in New Jersey, between wedding singer Robbie Hart and Julia Sullivan, as students from the Eden Junior-Senior High School set the stage for this year’s musical, “The Wedding Singer.”

The show will take place from Thursday – Sunday, March 6 – 9.

Eden will be the first school in this area to perform the Broadway rendition of the 1998 film that stars Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore.

“We have to pick musicals that are attractive to a wide range of students and also can incorporate a wide range of abilities,” said Director Jennifer Tylock, adding that “The Wedding Singer” is an accessible musical for involved students of both the junior and senior high school.

This will be Tylock’s 14th production at Eden. When she is not directing, she is teaching high school chorus.

After receiving two bachelor’s degrees from the State University of New York at Fredonia – in music performance and in music education – she went on to receive her master’s degree in music education, at that college.

Tylock also earned a Performer’s Certificate from the New England Conservatory of Music.

She said that, while growing up, she was always involved in either high school or community theater, and then participated in regional theater, while in college.

The Eden show will follow the basic plot line of the film, but some adjustments were made to allow better translation for a stage setting. Tylock said there are “minimal changes that make it a little more stage ready.”

Casting took place at the end of November, with rehearsals following in early December. The cast is made up of 60 students, with 20 crew members and approximately 10 – 15 students in the orchestra.

The show will star Andrew Pszonak as Robbie Hart, Kassaundra Funch as Julia Sullivan, Katie Schnaufer as Holly and Jon Bley as Sammy, all of whom are seniors.

“What’s unusual about our show is we do everything in house,” Tylock said. Parents, students and teachers worked together, to construct the set and make the costumes. “It’s pretty elaborate,” she said.

“This is probably the most dance number that I’ve ever done in 14 years,” Tylock said, adding that the choreography has been the most difficult aspect of the production.

Tylock said that she is excited for the LED-tape lighting that will be used for the set. That product is the width of a tape measure and is embedded with LED lights, with a flexibility that allows versatile applications to set the mood for different scenes of the show.

“I’m really excited; it’s been a great time with everybody,” Schnaufer said. “Going into it, I was really hoping [Holly] was the role I was going to get. She’s always got something crazy to say or do.” The student said that the scene she is most looking forward to performing is the number called “Saturday Night.”

“It has a ton of energy in it. Everybody’s getting into it and having a ton of fun,” Schnaufer added.

Eden’s production of “The Wedding Singer” has been accepted into the Kenny Awards at Shea’s Performing Arts Center.

The ceremony is structured as the Tony Awards© is, with local nominations for best actor/actress, best production value, best costumes and more.

Also an educational outreach program, students will be invited to Shea’s for workshop sessions leading up to the date of the ceremony, on May 10.

Seven schools from Chautauqua, Erie and Niagara counties have been nominated; judges will then attend theater nights at each school. The overall winner will receive a $5,000 grant for its program.

“It’s a huge opportunity for Eden,” Tylock said.

“The Wedding Singer” performance times are as follows: 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 6; 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 7; 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 8; and 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 9.

Tickets will be available at the door, or may be purchased online at

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