Chicago Theater Works TONY AND TINA’S WEDDING Review – A Big Fat Italian Wedding

The Wedding of the Season

Based on the original off-Broadway hit, Tony and Tina’s Wedding takes Italian weddings to the extreme. Though I am not Italian and have never been to an Italian wedding before, I’ve heard there can be lots and lots of drama. This show brings it. Director Paul Stroili, who was part of the original Chicago cast, has assembled an eccentric cast of characters to play the over-the-top, Italian wedding guests, both family and friends, in order to create an overdramatic, improvised night out.
Tony and Tina’s Wedding takes all the elements you know and love about a wedding and puts them together for your entertainment. You begin the evening at an actual church - the Resurrection Church in Lakeview - and are welcomed in by the cast milling about, getting ready for the big ceremony to start. Here you get a chance to meet the characters and are introduced to the big family feud.

Bringing The Fun

After the short and sweet vows, the reception venue is only a few blocks away at Vinnie Black’s Coliseum (also known as the Chicago Theater Works theatre). Luckily, you don’t have to walk alone as you are guided by the charming cast who do not break character. I had the pleasure of walking with Tony and Tina (Mitchell Conti and Hannah Aaron Brown). They were welcoming as we talked and joked about the last time we “saw” each other, as if we were really part of the family.
From there, the reception gets under full swing, so get ready to party with all the classic wedding troupes. You’ll have the wedding party introduction, the conga line, the cake smushing in the bride’s face, and, after the wedding party has been drinking for some time, you’ll even get the YMCA (which turns into a mini Chippendales performance mind you).

You’re also treated to the comedic stylings of Vinnie Black (Brian Noonan) who has some punchy one liners before dinner is served. One thing is for sure, the show aims to keep you busy and entertained without a second of down time.

Improvising the Night Away

If you haven’t been to the show before, you’ll find out Tony and Tina’s Wedding is mostly an improvised show. The cast has certain plot points to hit, but otherwise improvises their dialogue and actions throughout the show. They play their characters well, but there didn’t seem to be enough connection drawn between all the plot points in order to build a convincing story.
The one plot point that barely carried through was the feuding families, or at least the mother of the bride not liking the father of the groom and vice versa. This dislike was the fuel that brought the show to its climax when the two finally blew up at each other. Besides this conflict, there wasn’t really any other story. It felt like there were other unexplored plotlines and relationships between characters that could have added to the wedding drama.
Overall, the vibe of the event is what attracts you and pulls you in: that drama of family tensions bubbling beneath the surface, the happy love between Tony and Tina, and the welcoming actors encouraging you to get up and dance. While there’s not much in terms of plot, Tony and Tina’s Wedding is a great way to have the experience of a wedding without it being your own crazy family. Somewhat recommended.

When:

Extended indefinitely!
Showtimes vary on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

Where:

Start:
Resurrection Church
3309 North Seminary Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657
End:
Chicago Theater Works
1113 W. Belmont Ave.
Chicago, IL 60657

Tickets:

$75 for the two-part event, which includes the ceremony and reception, featuring an Italian-style buffet dinner, dancing to 80’s hits and a champagne toast.

Tickets for premium seating closest to the stage and dance floor are $85.

Discounts are available for groups of 16 or more by visiting GroupTix.net or by calling 773.327.3778. Seating is limited so make your plans now.

For more information or to purchase tickets visit http://tonylovestina.com/

Photo:

Liz Lauren

 

 

Note:  An excerpt of this review appears in Theatre in Chicago.

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