Rep stages a riotous `Wedding'


I went to a wedding Friday night. I didn't know the bride and bridegroom very well - not at all, in fact. But by the time the evening was over, I recognized bits and pieces of just about every person in the bridal party and bits and pieces of just about every wedding I've ever attended, mine included.

Friday's wedding belonged to Valentina Vitale and Anthony Nunzio, Jr. It was Tony N' Tina's Wedding, a production of the Toledo Repertoire Theatre.

Production is at once a perfect and an odd word for Tony N' Tina's Wedding. A cast of at least 20 people play everyone from the wedding party to the DJ. But the audience comprises the wedding guests, and much of what transpires during the reception depends in large part on how involved the “guests” get. One may be called upon to dance with the bride. Another may be taken into a weepy bridesmaid's confidence.

But no matter how strange things get, the illusion of a wedding and a reception is always maintained. You may start the evening feeling a bit self-conscious, attending a fake wedding in a real church. You will end the evening feeling as if you've attended a real wedding and wishing the new Mr. and Mrs. Tony Nunzio, Jr., all the best.

With their families, they'll need all the good luck they can muster.

The Vitale side consists of the bride, Tina (Lisa Eastwood), who simply adores her new husband and singer Paula Abdul, not necessarily in that order; Tina's mother, Josephine (Ann Wiess), who wields her widowhood as a shield of protection, a lance of guilt, or a mist of vulnerability, depending on her immediate needs, and Joey (David Shanahan), Tina's brother, who is not happy with this wedding at all. “White trash,” he hissed to us about the bridegroom's family. “They made their money in strip clubs.”

Indeed they did, for along with bridegroom Tony (Matthew Chandler) are his father, Anthony Nunzio (Paul Speeda), self-satisfied and patronizing; his father's “date,” Madeline Monroe (Kelly Tinney), one of his strippers, and Grandma Nunzio (Lisa Marshall), a fragile old lady who looks as if a puff of wind could knock her over. Grandma's an insurance agent, and she becomes a pit bull if she scents a possible sale.

There are other principals and they deserve to be recognized. But advance knowledge of a lot of elements could diminish the impact of the production.

Suffice it to say, like the movie My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding, Tony and Tina's affair will speak to something in just about all of us. Sometimes embarrassing, sometimes endearing, and most of the time fun, it's one social event that shouldn't be missed.

“Tony N' Tina's Wedding” will be performed tomorrow-Sunday in Collingwood Presbyterian Church, 2108 Collingwood Blvd. It moves to St. Andrew United Methodist Church, 3620 Heatherdowns Blvd., for shows Feb. 13-16; to Trinity Episcopal Feb. 20-23, and back to St. Andrew on Feb. 28 and March 1. Performances start at 7 p.m. except on Sundays, when they start at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $30 and include a meal. Information: 419-243-9277.