RDC Theatre: Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding puts the audience on the guest list

“Immersive” play about over-the-top nuptials starts on Wednesday, April 12

A big, fat Italian wedding is about to take place at Red Deer College — and anybody age 13 or older is invited to attend.

Theatre students are putting on Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding next week, which means audience members can get all dolled up since they’ll be ‘guests’ at the nuptials.

Once Tina Vitale, a headstrong former party-girl, exchanges vows with her groom, rowdy-but-charming Tony Nunzio, in this “immersive theatre experience” (that unfolds in Studio A of the RDC Arts Centre, from April 12-15), the audience will get to stay for the over-the-top reception.

A colourful series of in-your-face Italian characters will make appearances in this semi-improvised production that lifts the fourth wall between actors and audience.

There’s everyone from Connie, the eight-months-pregnant maid-of-honour, to officiating priest Father Mark, of St. Pacino’s Holy Mission, who thinks of himself as ‘hip,’ to tipsy guests who decide to get up and sing.

Running around in the background is Vinnie the wedding planner. He bills himself as “The Emperor or Extravagance,” but can’t prevent things from veering off in unexpected directions.

There will be plenty of comic drama as the evening goes on, predicted Karen Johnson-Diamond, the play’s director and an RDC theatre alum. She hinted that some private wars are bound to play out in public, as family secrets are spilled.

Guests might even witness some histrionics if Tina’s ex-boyfriend makes an uninvited appearance.

Johnson-Diamond believes the 18 cast members and 18 crew members are learning a lot about theatre-on-the-fly from Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, which was loosely plotted by the American collective Artificial Intelligence in 1985.

Since being produced off-Broadway, the play has run in more than 100 locations, from Japan to Australia. And each time it’s staged more actors are finding their bearings in improv, said Johnson-Diamond, who as co-founder of Calgary’s running live soap opera, Dirty Laundry, is an improviser herself.

She knows the ability to think on your feet is a vital skill that’s learned through spontaneous interactions with the audience and other actors.

“What I love is that it’s always a different performance,” said Johnson-Diamond, as story threads are picked up by different characters.

She hopes guests will enjoy Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, which includes adult subject matter, alcohol sales and optional dancing.

“It’s interactive — but not scary interactive,” she added, noting members of the audience can participate as much, or as little, as they like.

For more information, or tickets, please contact the Black Knight Ticket Centre.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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