This weekend, we attended a wedding, mounted and staged by The Pirate Stage Company LLC, at the Cypress Manor at Cary. No indication was made, as we gathered in the rustic-appearing venue, that we were attending anything other than a regular old wedding between two young Italian-American lovebirds.
The funniest thing about Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is that it is not a wedding at all. It is a marvelous, interactive, and improvisational entertainment. Guests and the wedding party are, in fact, almost peers in this show.
The “actors” are some very fine performers whom you may recognize; but you won’t find a quiet moment to speak to any of them during the show, because these guys never break character. Moreover, their skill is further demonstrated as they smoothly slip in and out of learnt lines and spontaneous lines. It is safe to say that there is always something oddball and interesting happening, sometimes near you and sometimes far enough away that you can’t tell what it is. That’s okay, because something will happen near you soon enough.
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, which is a form of “interactive environmental comedy,” enjoyed a 22-year run at Off-Broadway theaters in Greenwich Village, NYC. After the “wedding guests” (the audience) are seated in the “chapel” area of Cypress Manor at Cary, the show gets off to a raucous start, with squabbles among the bridal party, groomsmen, and families. A rambling priest (Brian Westbrook as Father Mark), very pregnant maid of honor (Alexandra.Finazzo as Connie) funny old granny (Nan L. Stephenson as Grandma Nunzio), bridesmaid and groom (A.C. Donohue as Donna and Brett Yates as Tony), smooching frantically as they move down the aisle, and an obviously hostile wedding crasher — the univited ex-boyfriend (Nicholas Sheets as Michael Just) of the bride (Lauren Tompkins as Tina) — all “tip us” to the deep vein of comedy that will be mined. After the already tipsy priest mangles verses from First Corinthians and a family member nun Ecclesiastes a family member who is a nun (Natalie Turgeon as Sister Albert Maria) demonstrates some decidedly un-nun-like behavior, Tina’s former boyfriend offers a rather coarse response when the priest asks whether anyone objects to these nuptuals.
The ceremony ends in much hilarity; and the principals line up to greet the guests, which again includes the kind of camaraderie that one would expect at a wedding reception. We are then led to our tables for cocktails, buffet dinner, zany entertainment, dancing, and cake cutting.
Wild dancing is enjoyed by many, including your elderly reviewers, doing line dancing, the macerena, “YMCA,” the chicken dance, and “Who Let the Dogs Out”; but we did avoid the limbo. Also, the floor becomes crowded as women celebrate Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”
Donny Dolce (Kevin Roberge), the frantically energetic master of ceremonies, hosts us through a Champagne March, the toast to the new couple (interrupted by a couple of small food fights) and the introduction of performances by talented family members. Club owner and overall Don of the evening, Vinnie Black (Bill Andrews), serenades us with well-known Italian-American favorites reminiscent of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, and then invites us all to join him as he sings “Santa Lucia.”
An excellent buffet of ziti and a meat ball, with a crisp green salad and a fine dinner roll, is provided. The movement of tables through the line is handled with alacrity, courtesy of Mamma Mia! Italian Bistro.
The evening ends with the cutting and passing around of slices of a huge, three-tier wedding cake that gives rise to the weightiness of the evening. All in all, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is a joyful, unexpected, and carefree entertainment, that the group The Pirate Stage Company have worked very hard to accomplish and is well worth the price and time. It may well evoke memories of weddings that you have attended.
SECOND OPINION: Jan. 25th Triangle Review review by Dustin K. Britt: https://triangleartsandentertainment.org/2017/01/youre-invited-to-the-immersive-uproarious-tony-n-tinas-wedding-at-cypress-manor-at-cary/.
The Pirate Stage Company LLC presents TONY N’ TINA’S WEDDING at 5 p.m. Jan. 22, 7 p.m. Jan. 27 and 28, and 5 p.m. Jan. 29 at Cypress Manor at Cary, 1040 Buck Jones Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27606.
TICKETS: $59-$99, including dinner. BOX OFFICE: 414-339-1289, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://tonyandtinaraleigh.bpt.me/.
SHOW: http://tonyandtinaraleigh.com/, http://tonyandtinaraleigh.bpt.me/, and http://www.cypressmanoratcary.com/tony-n-tina-wedding-theatre.
PRESENTER: https://www.facebook.com/piratestage/ and https://www.facebook.com/tonyntinaraleigh/.
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding (1985 New York City and 1988 Off-Broadway interactive environmental comedy): http://tonylovestina.com/ (official website), http://www.lortel.org/Archives/Production/1436 (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tony_n’_Tina’s_Wedding (Wikipedia).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.