The successful Off Broadway hit My Big Gay Italian Wedding is touring the UK, bringing to audiences the gay version of the longest running Off Broadway show Tony & Tina’s Wedding. Theatregoers are greeted by cast members, cleverly dispersed throughout the audience, before the show and become a part of the wedding for the next ninety minutes. This interactive, in your face comedy leaves you dancing in the aisles by the curtain call.
Anthony Wesley Dow is part of a big, loud Italian family from Brooklyn. When he tells his parents that he is going to marry Andrew Robert Hannouch his family reluctantly agrees and his friends get involved in the wedding planning. From rehearsal to reception, the over the top innuendos, slapstick humour, and camp comedy does not slow down for a second. While the stereotypical gay puns are sometimes predictable, they are executed well and almost always worth a chuckle. Some are down right hilarious!
Traces of Will & Grace’s Jack Mcfarland are evident in the character of Gregorio Matthew Barksby and Beverly Lesley in Maurizio Le Grande’s Andrew Beckett persona, but these television icons are so beloved in the gay community that they are deserving of the homage paid to them.
The production is fast-paced and feels as if you are watching an American sitcom live on stage but the laugh track is actually the audience around you enjoying themselves. I think that the acting is a little bit overdone for such a small stage, but it fits with the big personalities of the guidos and guidettes and kept the atmosphere light and comical.
Throughout the show, the actors use asides to involve the audience as cast members in the production. At first this is awkward, but once the fourth wall is broken, the audience realizes that they are meant to be the guests at the wedding and they can relax and enjoy themselves by joining in with the singing and dancing.
The stand out song was Maria’s Jill Regan solo at the wedding, a Sister Act meets Dreamgirls mash up that really gets the audience going. The most unexpected scene comes in the form of an outrageous dance performance by the groomsmen at the reception and is reprised by the whole cast at the curtain call. Beyonce herself would be proud.
At times the New York accents were forgotten by certain cast members, but the characters of Lucia Cassandra Harris, Angela Sarah Dearlove and Regan’s performance as Maria, were consistent, convincing, and captivating.
This camp and queeny comedy gives audiences a new spin on My Big Fat Greek Wedding by taking elements of Mamma Mia and making it flaming. Weddings are supposed to be a time for dancing and celebration, and this just might be the most fun wedding you will ever go to!