Comedy

Step Back into the ’80s with Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding

Have you ever been to a truly tacky wedding? Members of the wedding party had several disruptive arguments. A lot of allusions were made to the bride and groom’s sex life and past relationship issues. Maybe the bride appeared to be pregnant?

I recently attended a wedding just like this–Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, an off-Broadway show that’s been running since 1988. The show has returned to Chicago once again and will run in Lakeview until mid-January. The ceremony starts at Resurrection Church on the corner of Seminary and School streets. It’s a real church. After a 40-minute ceremony, everyone walks two blocks south to a banquet space on Belmont. There is a champagne toast, a wedding singer, a conga line and cake. And a cash bar–the true mark of a tacky wedding!

Tina, Father Mark and Tony (Hannah Aaron Brown, Billy Minshall and Mitchell Conti)

Tina, Father Mark and Tony (Hannah Aaron Brown, Billy Minshall and Mitchell Conti)

Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is an interactive show. I think it’s more popular to call this “immersive” theater now. The audience members are mixed in with the cast members. We all took part in the wedding ceremony and we all danced in the conga line at the reception. We talked to members of the bridal party and most of us were hit on by the wedding singer. Normally I think of immersive theater as avant-garde, but Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding felt more like dinner and a show at Disneyland. But instead of meeting Mickey, you meet Mikey–Tina’s ex-lover who recently got out of rehab and doesn’t own a collared shirt.

The actors were very convincing and funny. Mitchell Conti who plays the groom reminded me of the Pauly D-impersonator football captains from my very Italian high school. The wedding singer was also a stand out character. There were no weak links in the cast and they all went out of their way to have lovers’ quarrels at your table, take their shirts off when it got too hot, make comments about the past plastic surgeries of other characters, and more!

Weddings are normally stressful and expensive for everyone involved, but this performance really did feature just the positives of wedding going–the entertaining dramatics, the food, dancing and drinking. I felt like I was on the set of the Wedding Singer or attending Molly Ringwald’s sister’s wedding in 16 Candles. Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding felt like it belonged to the same era as these ’80s films. Who doesn’t like a good ‘80s dance party?

RoryZacher as Dominic, Luciana Bonifazi as Connie, Hannah Aaron Brown Tina, Rob Johnson as Barry, and Mitchell Conti as Tony.

Rory Zacher as Dominic, Luciana Bonifazi as Connie, Hannah Aaron Brown Tina, Rob Johnson as Barry, and Mitchell Conti as Tony.

The 1980s setting definitely made the event more frivolous and fun, but it might have been interesting if they’d updated the premise to today. What does a tacky wedding look like in 2016? Would the sound of the bride taking a selfie interrupt the groom’s “I do”? Even if they stuck to the Italian wedding stereotype, it might be worthwhile to update the stereotype. There were a few jokes that worked as references to jokes that would have been made 20 years ago because they don’t make much sense any more. Having children out of wedlock isn’t taboo anymore. Premarital sex is a given. The allusion to these topics being classless and embarrassing is a harbinger of the 1980s setting just like the puff sleeves on Tina’s wedding dress.

Tony n‘ Tina’s Wedding is a great event to bring an out-of-town guest to, or enjoy with a group of friends looking for something different to do. Tickets are $75 each, and performances run Friday-Sunday from now until mid-January.  

Categories: Comedy, Theater

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