Saturday November 18th 2017

“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” revisited

tntHighly Recommended **** Due to time constraints, I was unable to attend the opening of the “re-boot” of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding”, and I thank Carol Moore for handling this for me. Since Chicago Theater Works has extended this show, I felt that it was time for us to take the wedding trip with these families. Back in 1993, Chicago’s Piper Alley was the residence of this show ( or should we call it production ?) where it ran for two decades before losing its steam and residence. Director Paul Stroili, who was a member of the Chicago cast, has brought it back with a new look, and one that might be even more effective than the original.

The “wedding” now begins at a Church. Yes, that is correct, a church- Resurrection Church located at 3342 N. Seminary Street ( at the corner of School Street) in what is called the Lakeview area (just a few blocks from Wrigleyville). We arrived at the church and I dropped Jane and our friend Marsha off so I could park the car. There is church parking (at a fee), but since this is a two -part production, I opted to park the car closer to the restaurant part of the show, so when it was over we would be close to the car. The girls were checked in and escorted to our pew (where I joined them later). From our seats we could see and talk to many guests. Many patrons were attempting to figure out who were the performers and who were the actual patrons. A few fooled us!

The 30 minute ceremony was fun and adorable with music and comedy as we got to meet the two families, The Vitales: Tina of course and Her mother Josephina, her aunt Rose, her sister Albert Maria ( about to become a real Sister) and her brother, Joey. Hannah Aaron Brown makes an adorable Tina and her betrothed, Tony (deftly handled by Mitch Conti) and his family, the Nunzios are also not a perfect family. The joining of these two families is in many ways, perfect as they save two other families from fates such as theirs.tony11-267x400

The Nunzios are headed by Anthony Senior (Tommy Taylor has this guy “down pat”) along with his mama, Grandma Nunzio (Marssie Mencotti is adorable in this role). All the family and friends appear to be having a ball, never pushing audience members to participate where they do not wish to. Those that join in have a great time. Those who choose to watch, are also having a great time observing the interplay action between the cast and audience. Ensemble, as you know, in my mind is what makes a show. This ensemble truly “gets it!”. Luciana Bonifazi, Rob Johnson, Robin Bousel ( an amazing vocalist), Rory Zacher, Jessica Rzucidlo, Ryan Milord, Mary McHale, Susan Gaspar, sexy Jessic Scott, Micah Spayer (who does a great EMCEE job), Brian Noonan (Chicago’s favorite sports-guy on WGN-Radio shows his skills as Vinnie Black, owner of the banquet hall), Jan Godshaw (as Viinie’s wife, Alisha Fabbi), Billy Minshall (as Father  Mark), Eustace Allen, Matthew Bausone, Dominic Rescigno (the colorful photographer with the pink pants), Serena Pomerantz and Ben Schlotfelt. These are the players who do the ceremony, lead us from te church to the “hall”located at 1113 West Belmont (about a bloch-and-a-half). I have been informed that during bad weather, a trolley will be on hand to make this trek.

tony-n-tinas-weddingIs this a deep play with deep meaning? Is this a musical where you will find yourself caught in the power of the acting? It is none of these. In face, what “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” is, is sheer diversion, filled with laughs and memories of life back in a simpler time. Yes, there was a time before cell phones and computers where people spoke to each other, went to family functions, sang together, laughed and sometimes fought with each other and over, each other! We arrived at the “hall” at 5:45 p.m. and spent until 7: 30 p.m. singing, drinking (optional) and dining (the meal is salad, bread and butter, pasta with pork) and seconds are available. It is a buffet and even the actors who are seated around, partake.

There are speeches, comedy, some great songs and of course dancing the polka, the chicken dance and even though an Italian wedding, the Hora. The Honeymoon Dance is fun as guests line up to help defray the honeymoon cost by dancing with either Tony or Tina at a buck a dance. The song- “Time Of My Life”! a beautiful rendition with a surprise ending. Other tunes include a solid arrangement of “Up Where We Belong” from “An Officer and a Gentleman” and a rousing rendition of “YMCA”. I must say, a truly fun evening for both young and old audience members, each leaving the building far happier than when they entered. Live Theater should do that- take the days problems and pop them out of one’s head. “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” 2016 edition directed by Paul Stroili did just that! BRAVO!tnt1-300x191

“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” is on an open end run (so far, extended thru  4/29/2017), so the more people buy tickets, the longer these actors will bring this wonderful work to others. Performances are:

Fridays  7:30 p.m.

Saturdays  5 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Sundays 5 p.m.

Tickets are $75 and include everything (including wedding cake) except beverages.

tnt1To order your place at the church and table call 773-327-3778 or visit http://tonylovestina.com/

Parking IS a problem in the area- mostly zoned stickers, but there is a lot at the church and you can order parking on the site.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding”

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