Chicago Theater Review: TONY N’ TINA’S WEDDING (Chicago Theater Works at Resurrection Church)

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by Lawrence Bommer on September 30, 2016

in Theater-Chicago


hannah-aaron-brown-as-tina-billy-minshall-as-father-mark-and-mitchell-conti-as-tonyThere’s a reason why Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, newly revived by the original New York producers, was a 16-year Chicago hit. Throughout the last century this fake pageant with real fun played to a million not so innocent bystanders. A huge hit showcased in three venues (a bar, chapel and reception room) in Pipers Alley, it became a totally immersive triumph of audience interaction. (A merry spin-off, Tony ‘n’ Tony’s Wedding was equally hilarious.)

For the price of admission, a tourist or local could instantly acquire two boisterous Italian families and share a semi-serious wedding ceremony followed by a chaos-ridden reception. Best of all, unlike real families, when it was over you could walk away from these fractious familias and never think of them again—until the hangover.


Staged by Paul Stroili, one of several cast members from the original production, this pseudo-celebration delivers a comic simulation seemingly combining all the outtakes from videos of disastrous weddings. From, as they put it, “the ‘I dos’ to the bouquet toss,” the rightly named “T&T” amounts to a carefully choreographed artistic train wreck.

luciana-bonifazi-as-connieThe silly parody actually begins in a real holy place, the calla lily-bedecked sanctuary of the Resurrection Church in Lakeview. Assembled in the pews, the patrons are all guests of the bride or groom and can make up their “back stories” to suit their mood. It doesn’t take long for trouble to surface on the twosome’s supposedly happiest day on earth. Surrounded by bridesmaids (one visibly pregnant) in flamboyantly fluffed scarlet gowns and groomsmen in disco finery (minus corsages), Michael Conti’s Tony (aka Anthony Angelo Nunzio Jr.) and Hannah Aaron Brown’s cavorting Tina (aka Valentina Lynne Vitale) are a portrait of frozen fun. Facing the congregation (and the music), the lovebirds listen as soon-to-be Sister Albert Maria (Alicia Fabbi) conducts the crowd in a horrible inspiration hymn (“Jesus Is Just Alright with Me,” repeated over and over). Complications ensue as one of Tina’s many previous bedmates (“I used to bang her!”) crashes the ritual and threatens payback.

mitchell-conti-as-tony-hannah-aaron-brown-as-tina-luciana-bonifazi-as-connie-and-billy-minshall-as-father-markAccompanied by boisterous, stereotypically Italian clans making dire predictions about the newlyweds and the vengeful “exes,” the assemblage traipses a long block south to Vinnie Black’s Coliseum (Chicago Theater Works) on Belmont Avenue. What follows is a well-orchestrated travesty of a raucous reception, combining “Rat Pack” favorites with breakout dances (a conga line, the “Chicken Dance”, the ever-telegraphic ‘YMCA”, but no Hokey Pokey).

The goomba guys (no Mafiosi here) hoof up a storm with the flounced-up flirts. A cash bar (it was “open” last time) fuels the festivities and a very efficient buffet (no seconds!) feeds a ravenous crowd. As host Vinnie Black, Brian Noonan praises his recipes and delivers some un-PC ethnic standup humor and “take my wife” jokes that were ancient before Henny Youngman stole them.

rory-zacher-as-dominic-luciana-bonifazi-as-connie-hannah-aaron-brown-as-tina-rob-johnson-as-barry-and-mitchell-conti-as-tonyMingling manically with the civilian celebrants, the louder-than-life cast of 23 really look their parts, including a cute gay couple (the videographer and groom’s younger brother). Before and after the one-plate course, these designated carousers are all over the place and in your face. (There is little immunity to involvement in this convulsive pressure cooker.)

Running through 2016, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding works as escapism, jollity, or therapy. If you’re planning your own knot-tying, it instantly lowers the bar for future weldings (I mean weddings): Instantly, event-planners get a bottom-diving benchmark for fiasco-plagued yokings that they can industriously avoid. As earlier mentioned, you get to rent two families, then abandon them forever. You can play along, choose sides, catch a garter, and maybe meet the real deal for a not so virtual ceremony not so long from now.

Tony n’ Tina’s Weddingmarssie-mencotti-as-grandma-nunzio
Chicago Theater Works
Resurrection Church,
3309 North Seminary Ave. &
Vinnie Black’s Coliseum,
1113 W Belmont Ave.
open run
for tickets, visit Tony Loves Tina

for more shows,
visit Theatre in Chicago

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