Since “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” first opened off-Broadway in 1988, the hilarious show has enamored tens of thousands of theater-goers with its loud and lively antics.
On Tuesday, March 8, Tony, Tina and all of their boisterous Italian-American friends and relatives will return to Chandler Center for the Arts for an eight-show run that ends on Sunday, March 13.
Michelle Mac Lennan, general manager of Chandler Center for the Arts, says “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” was first produced at the Chandler theater in 2010.
Like the performances six years ago, the current shows will include a core cast from New York City, as well as 20 local actors who were cast to play other roles.
“‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ is the ultimate dinner theater experience,” Mac Lennan says.
“Anyone who has ever gone to a wedding before will love it. It’s all about family drama and full of comedy about a stereotypical Italian wedding.”
The performances will be staged in the foyer of the lobby of the Center, Mac Lennan says, adding that theater patrons can purchase tickets that determine if they are “Friends and Cousins” or “Family.”
“There will be round tables with the family members, and the friends and cousins are a bit further away. It’s a full staged wedding and the audience is the guests,” she says.
“The members of the cast will be seated around the lobby, so you might end up right next to the mother-in-law.”
Since no big Italian wedding would be complete without plenty of good food, Mac Lennan says “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” will include a full meal from Floridino’s, wedding cake and dancing.
“The cast members will work off the audience, and the show really blurs the lines between fantasy and reality,” Mac Lennan says, adding that the performers are quite adept at sensing which audience members would like to get in on the action and who would prefer to enjoy the show in relative peace.
Mac Lennan, who has been at Chandler Center for the Arts for 16 years, says the show is a favorite of the staff, and even the caterers get caught up in the fun.
For someone who has never experienced live theater before, Mac Lennan says “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” is a great place to start.
“It’s definitely not average theater. It’s light and accessible, and it’s the type of show that husbands will be glad that they were dragged along to see,” she says.
“No two performances are alike, and there’s a different nuance for every show.”
Anthony Lauria, director and production manager for “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” says he is “absolutely looking forward” to returning to Chandler.
“Chandler Center for the Arts is wonderful. The staff is wonderful and the local actors that were cast are also great performers,” Lauria says, adding that Chandler’s sunny warm weather is a definite bonus.
“I’m also looking forward to escaping the frigid weather and snow we’ve had this winter in New York,” he says, laughing.
Other upcoming events
While “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” promises to be a favorite among theater patrons, Mac Lennan says it’s far from the only show on the schedule.
“Another comedy that we have coming up is ‘The Second City—Fully Loaded’ on March 4,” she says.
Hailing from Chicago, the sketch and improv theater includes plenty of funny sketches and songs—some of which will include local community references.
Mac Lennan says famous comedians like Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Bill Murray are alumni of Second City.
“It’s a great event for a date night and is full of side-splitting laughs,” she says.
Rita Rudner, who had a regular gig in Las Vegas for 10 years, will appear at Chandler Center for the Arts on March 18.
“She is one of the best and her routine is completely clean. It’s really for everyone and includes a lot of female humor,” Mac Lennan says.
Another upcoming performance that Mac Lennan is especially looking for is The von Trapps on April 1.
“They are the great grandchildren of the von Trapps, so they are the real deal. They have become a hit group and perform a contemporary cabaret,” Mac Lennan says.
“They are just phenomenal and their voices are heavenly and the performance will appeal to people of all ages.”
Chandler Center for the Arts offers something for everyone
No matter if they are looking for a musical performance, comedy or live theater, Mac Lennan says Chandler Center for the Arts definitely offers theater goers a wide variety of choices.
“We serve 175 events a year including public events, and national touring artists that most people have heard of,” she says.
“And if you count the multiple organizations that use our facility, we have one thousand events a year.”
One of the things that helps to set Chandler Center for the Arts apart, Mac Lennan says, is its amazing acoustics.
“When people come here for a concert it will be a great experience. No seat is further than 100 feet away from the stage, and the acoustics will enhance the quality of the sound and I guarantee it will be great,” she says.
Chandler Center for the Arts is also committed to helping local kids enjoy theater experiences up close.
“Our Connecting Kidz program serves 5,000 kids a year with a free or low-cost arts experience,” Mac Lennan says, adding that she hopes the program will help to build the audiences and casts of tomorrow.
No matter what brings kids, teens and adults to Chandler Center of the Arts, Mac Lennan says they are sure to find a top quality and enjoyable theater experience.
“We have a little bit of everything,” she says.