Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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They're married, on stage and in life

Talk about renewing your wedding vows. Jillian and Michael Zygo get married just about every night.

The couple star in The Wedding Singer, which opens a six-performance run tonight in the Stranahan Theater and a single performance Tuesday in Lima. They talked about the show last week in a telephone interview from Fayettesville, Ark.

"The plot is very, very similar to the movie," Jillian said, referring to the 1998 Adam Sandler-Drew Barrymore film on which the stage show is based.

"The only specific difference that I can think of is the music," said Mike. "People who come to see the show aren't going to hear the songs from the movie, but they're going to hear original songs that are equally as fun and pay tribute to the style from the '80s."

Mike plays Robbie Hart, a much-in-demand entertainer at events such as weddings and bar mitzvahs, although he dreams of performing his own rock-and-roll compositions. Robbie is the kind of guy who can get wallflowers off their chairs and onto the dance floors, make grandmothers feel young, and instill confidence in embarrassed teens. He is planning his own wedding to Linda.

At one of his gigs he meets Julia Sullivan, a pretty catering waitress played by Jill. She is engaged to a Wall Street businessman named Glen.

The attraction between Robbie and Julia is obvious, but getting them to acknowledge it won't be easy.

Both performers said they were familiar with Sandler's movie before pursuing the stage roles.

"I actually hadn't seen the movie probably for about two years when I auditioned for the role, and I intentionally didn't go back and watch it until after I was through the rehearsal process," said Jill. "I was trying to create the character my own way, to make sure I wasn't imitating. And then after the show was up and running I watched the movie and I found myself saying, 'Oh good, I'm on the right path.'

"What I think the audiences gravitate toward is seeing someone they can relate to. If you're out there trying to imitate a star, then people say, 'Oh, I don't really believe that. That's not really Drew Barrymore.' But if you're trying to be Julia Sullivan, the character, then they believe it more."

Because of the popularity of the movie, Mike said his character comes with certain strings attached.

"A lot of people who come to see this show … have seen the movie, so they're expecting some semblance of what Adam Sandler presented," he said.

The screenplay was written by Tim Herlihy, and he adapted it for the stage with Chad Beguelin. Herlihy is a childhood friend of Sandler, Mike said, so even though the stage production has a lot of new jokes and other elements, Beguelin and Herlihy keep it in line with Sandler's style of comedy.

Playing Robbie is a blast, Mike said. "He's a romantic, an idealist, a musician. He's a lot of things that I am in real life, so it doesn't make it very hard. I have to pretend to fall in love with my real wife every day, which is no stretch at all."

Jill and Mike are New York natives. She was raised near Saratoga, and he in Williamson. They met at the Geneseo campus of the State University of New York, where she was a theater major and he a music major. And they began their friendship as freshmen,when both were cast in the musical Hair.

Now 30, they've been married about four years and have performed together professionally in such shows as Oklahoma, The Full Monty, Oliver, I Love a Piano, Beehive, and Annie Get Your Gun.

"We've been very, very blessed to be able to work together as much as we have," Jill said. "This is the most exciting time, though, because we actually are both the leads, playing opposite each other, and we get married at the end."

Jill also said that if she were rating The Wedding Singer, she'd label it PG-13 because of the language, although "there's nothing you wouldn't see after 8 or 9 o'clock on television."

Both are proud of the production.

"It's a great group of people, and this show is a party," said Mike.

And Jill chimed in: "It is a party. If you want to have a great night and just laugh and have wonderful fun, high-energy dancing, amazing singing and voices, come see this show."

"The Wedding Singer" opens the Lincoln Mercury Broadway Series at the Stranahan Theater, 4645 Heatherdowns Blvd. Performances are at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $23 to $55. Information: 419-381-8851.

In Lima, the show will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center of Allen County, 7 Town Square. Tickets are $46. Information: 419-224-1552 or


Contact Nanciann Cherry at:

or 419-724-6130.

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