Highly Recommended **** Unlike many of my contemporaries, I’d never seen “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” during its long run at Piper’s Alley, so I can’t make any comparisons. After attending the retro wedding and reception, I completely understand why it was such a hit. It had everything you could want in a wedding – on steroids! The cast worked the room (I think every cast member stopped at our table to talk) improvising freely. My friend Nancy and I were seated with lovely people so we had a wonderful time laughing and talking with them. I give “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” 4 Spotlights.
After I found a parking place (luckily fairly close to Vinnie Black’s Coliseum – VBC), Nancy and I walked to Resurrection Church, scene of the wedding. A photographer who was snapping pictures of guests asked if we wanted our picture taken – for $5. A fellow has to make a living, he told us! A swishy videographer rushed up to us and announced that he was Joey’s boyfriend! Joey (Ryan Milord) turned out to be Tina’s brother. After we were given our seating assignment for dinner, into the church we went. For those who have difficulties, this church is not handicapped accessible.
I think having the wedding in a real church added a dignified backdrop for general hilarity, which is what one expects at any wedding. The bride’s cousin, Terry Vitale (Alisha Fabbi), who is about to take her vows as Sister Albert Maria, led the guests in singing an Inspiration Hymn she’d written as a gift to Tony and Tina with the following ‘complicated’ chorus – Jesus is just alright with me, Jesus is just alright, oh yeah! By the way, Fabbi channeled Donna Summer with her fabulous rendition of “The Last Dance” at the end of the reception.
The bridesmaids, Donna Marsala (Robin M. Bousel) and Marina Gulino (Jessica Rzucidlo) and the very pregnant Maid of Honor, Connie Macogni (Luciana Bonifazi), wore truly ugly red dresses headpieces and matching shoes straight out of the ‘80s. The groomsmen, Barry Wheeler (Rob Johnson) and Dominick Fabrizzi (Rory Jason Zacher) and the Best Man, Johnny Nunzio (Nik Kmiecik), razzed and cheered Tony during the ceremony.
After the ceremony, everyone walked about a block and a half to VBC. Since Nancy and I were sitting in the last row in church, we walked to VBC in a straggling group led by Tony (Mitchell Conti) and Tina (Hannah Aaron Brown). Tony directed traffic on busy Belmont Avenue as we crossed. I have to give the cast a lot of credit as they responded to audience comments and questions with aplomb. When I said something about a wedding reception in a place without a parking lot, one of the bridesmaids told me Tina fell in love with the church.
Vinnie Black’s Coliseum aka Chicago Theater Works also hosts “We Gotta Bingo”. For the wedding, they moved the bingo throne out, added an elevated head table, draped the backdrop in white netting, white lights and vines, wrapped the columns with intertwined white lights and vines, and hung a picture of Frank Sinatra on the wall. An open space down the center served as a dance floor. Unfortunately, it wasn’t easy to see the antics of the bridal party because too many people were lined up around them.
After Mikey Black (Ben Schlotfet) and Nikki Black (Serena Pomerantz), Vinnie’s son and daughter, rolled the buffet onto the dance floor, the guests were invited to line up for dinner which turned out to be a fabulous salad, some kind of pasta (mostaccioli, I think) with sausage, and fresh sliced bread. After everyone was served, they were invited to go up for seconds. Vinnie Black (Brian Noonan) did a stand-up routine in the middle of the reception which was corny but quite funny.
Lounge singer, Donny Dulce (Micah Spayer), was a hoot. He wore a messy blonde wig, a gold lame jacket, gold lame t-shirt, and skinny-legged, red and black striped, Mick Jagger pants with large gold stars across his rear. At one point, a ‘drunken’ Michael Just (Matt Bausone), Tina’s ex-boyfriend who was wearing a tuxedo t-shirt under his jacket, pulled off Dulce’s wig resulting in a scream of outrage!
Tony’s father, Tony Nunzio, Sr. (Tommy Taylor), who loathes Tina’s mother, Josephina Vitale (Mary McHale), brought an exotic dancer, Madeline Monroe (Jessica Scott) as his date. Tony’s crazy Grandma Nunzio (Marssie Mencotti) made an obscene gesture at the end of her toast to her beloved grandson.
“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” runs through December 30th at Resurrection Church, 3309 N. Seminary Ave., and Vinnie Black’s Coliseum (Chicago Theater Works), 1113 W. Belmont, Chicago.
Saturdays at either 5:30 or 8:30 pm;
Sundays at 5:00 pm.
Tickets, including ceremony and reception, Italian-style buffet dinner and champagne toast, are $75. As at any wedding, seating is assigned by table. $85 for premium seating closest to stage and dance floor is $85. Street parking only. FYI (773) 327-3778 or www.tonylovestina.com.
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