Let’s face it, all weddings are good theatre.
Participants dress up in lavish costumes, recite scripted lines in front of an audience, and (thanks to alcohol) transform from wallflowers to wild partiers at the swing of a garter.
The slightly surreal nuptial experience has been bottled in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, an Artificial Intelligence production, conceived by Nancy Cassaro, which opened its sold-out run on Wednesday in Studio A of the Red College Arts Centre.
The two-hour “immersive theatre” presentation — in which the cast treats audience members like invited wedding guests — proves that emotional, over-the-top marriages can produce the best kind of comedy and/or drama.
The preview performance of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding was a highly entertaining affair. Audience members happily joined in the chicken dance one moment and gasped at the scandalous behaviour of the wedding party the next.
The mother of the bride fainting? The father of the groom’s stripper girlfriend table dancing? Suffice it to say it was fun people-watching at this wedding ceremony and reception.
Although every performance will be slightly different since this dysfunctional Italian wedding is really a loosely scripted improvisation, some kind of pent-up ‘scene’ is guaranteed to unfold.
Among the characters in this first-year production — guest directed by professional improviser Karen Johnson-Diamond — is the bride’s ex-boyfriend (Tyler Whillans), who’s just out of rehab. There’s a very pregnant bridesmaid (Alexandra Creedon) and other promiscuous, chewing gum-chomping members of the wedding party.
There are also in-laws with secrets. Shelby Anderson’s Mother of the Bride just might have a thing for the Father of the Groom (well played by James Walker).
You get the idea.
Most performances were pretty credible, considering there was nary an Italian name in the program. Some actors could have gone bigger with their portrayals. But among the standouts are the happy couple: Jayden Baldry as excitable Tony Nunzio and Kai Hall as his spoiled bride, Tina Vitale.
Mickey Cacho was terrific as racy girlfriend Madeline Monroe. Ben Garneau depicted ‘hip’ Father Mark of St. Pacino’s Parish, while Caleb Harrison portrayed irrepressible Uncle Luigi, who didn’t let his dependence on a walker get in the way of a trip to Sobey’s.
The multi-talented wedding planner was played by Eithan Moench, while Brett Nixon was D.J. Donny Dulce, who knew to crank up the volume to diffuse awkward situations.
Anybody with an invitation/ticket to Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is in for wacky time. The thing to remember is, the more you put into it (in terms of playing along with the cast) the more fun you will get out of it.