“Tony ’n Tina’s Wedding” has been inviting theater-goers to join the family celebration since the show opened in New York City in 1988. Chicago audiences attended the big, boisterous Italian wedding production for 16 years beginning in 1993 at Piper’s Alley. After closing down the show in 2009, ‘Tony ’n Tina’ has now returned to the Windy City in a new, two-part “event” staged by Chicago Theater Works, beginning September 22.
‘TONY ‘N TINA’S WEDDING’
When: Sept. 22-Dec.30
Where: Resurrection Church, 3309 N. Seminary
During the new, 150-minute show, “guests” attend the Italian-American wedding of the titular characters at an actual church. The reception follows — just one block away at Chicago Theater Works.
Paul Stroili, the director for the Chicago reboot, noted the fictional families don’t get along.
“And you season that with a priest who drinks a little too much, and a stripper, and a nun who wants to be on ‘American Idol,’ and a pregnant bridesmaid,” Stroili said, “and it’s Murphy’s Law.” (The stage play was turned into a feature film in 2004).
In the early ’90s, Stroili was a part of the Chicago cast at Piper’s Alley, portraying Vinnie Black, the wedding caterer and emcee for the evening’s antics. When producers looked to bring the show back to the city, they asked Stroili to direct.
Like the original New York production, the rebooted Chicago show will start in the sanctuary of an actual church. Resurrection Lutheran Church on North Seminary has agreed to let Chicago Theater Works use their space for two to three shows every weekend through December, said the church’s pastor Kelly Faulstich.
“We’re excited to have people come into the space,” Faulstich said. “It’s a beautiful sanctuary.”
“Everyone looks at the bridal party and the family and sees themselves,” Stroili said. He emphasized the show is interactive, and “the cast are as playful as they can get away with.”
“About 85 to 90 percent of the script is improvised,” Stroili added. “[During the original run] People came three or four times because it was a completely different show.”
And although the show has been updated, the wedding’s milieu is still very much retro ’80s, courtesy of the bride’s mother.
Dinner buffet and a champagne toast are served at the reception and Stroili said there is a full bar. While there is a vegetarian dinner option, Mrs. Vitali, Tina’s mother, “will be very upset if she finds out you don’t eat meat,” he said.