Goofball cast found in 'My Big Gay Italian Wedding'
Published: Thursday, June 2, 2011 11:38 AM CDT
Council Bluffs Nonpareil
OMAHA – The name of the show describes the comedy staged by SNAP! Productions pretty well: “My Big Gay Italian Wedding.” Being staged through June 19, the show follows dramatic Anthony (Ryan Eberhart) as he plans his upcoming nuptials to the more subdued Andrew (Stephen Michael Shelton).
Anthony has a huge family – complete with a very opinionated and equally dramatic mother (Lorie Obradovich), a Broadway star wannabe sister (Jessica Gall) and a loopy but pretty funny aunt (Therese Rennels). Vying for attention on stage is Anthony’s eclectic group of friends. Off on Andrew’s side, you get a jealous ex and a mom in drag added to the mix. You throw this batch of goofballs together, and you get an entertaining show.
“Wedding” starts off rather slow, building up how the two men met, how each family reacts and how everything snowballs out of control. It leads up to a much funnier second act, which includes a fun choreographed dance sequence during the reception.
The set was kept to a minimum to allow this large cast to stand out. Among the most entertaining would be Roderick Cotton’s performance as Anthony’s friend Rodney, who impersonates Andrew’s mother for the wedding (long story…). Rennels is also funny as Aunt Toniann – “The higher the hair, the closer to God.”
Hands’ down, however, my favorite actor to watch was the flamboyant wedding coordinator Maurizio Legrande, played with Elton John finesse by Joey Galda. He outdoes Martin Short’s funny take at coordinating weddings in the “Father of the Bride” movies.
The whole show takes place in New York City, which means we get some funny accents to enjoy. Unfortunately, not everyone maintains the accent, which was a little distracting.
A show that takes on gay marriage is not likely to be staged without a little controversy. I attended opening night on Friday and was greeted first by two protesters, and then quickly by one of the actors and the director of the show, Todd Brooks. Members of this nearly-full audience were not diswayed by the protesters, nor should you. If you think gay can be funny – which these protesters did not – then this show will be fun for you.
“My Big Gay Italian Wedding” runs through June 19 at 3225 California St., Omaha. Curtain times are 8 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; and 6 p.m. on Sundays. The Sunday, June 19, show will start at 2 p.m. There will be a signed performance for the hearing impaired this Sunday. The theater opens a half hour before curtain time. Reservations must be made at www.snapproductions.com.
Tickets are $15 general admission, or $12 for students, seniors and TAG members. Thursday pricing is $10 for all tickets.
– Special Sections and Arts & Entertainment Editor Kim Bousquet can be reached at (712) 325-5736 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Reader > Arts
Sin Not Funny?
by Warren Francke
“Sin is not funny,” according to the sign carried by two men demonstrating outside the SNAP! comedy, My Big Gay Italian Wedding. I assumed the sin they had in mind was suggested by the title of the show playing at 3225 California St.
Since we are sinners all since Adam’s Fall, I suspect the protesters also commit all sorts of sins cited in Leviticus, but I don’t want to argue about what they find sinful. Funny, however, is another matter.
I’m pretty sure Maurizio Legrande, the flaming wedding coordinator played by Joey Galda, is very funny. Therese Rennels is funny as Toniann, the aunt of groom-to-be Anthony Pinnunziato (Ryan Eberhard). Add Lorie Obradovich and Mark Cramer as his parents plus Angie Heim and Liz Mulhern as two feuding lesbian maids-of-honor and you’re inclined to conclude if this be sin, sin is funny.
To find otherwise may require concluding that the entire human condition is not funny and then you’ve about ruled out any kind of comedy. So, fellows, you could demonstrate outside the Omaha Community Playhouse because the gambling in Guys and Dolls is not funny.
That might even lead, heaven forbid, to the concern that Adelaide’s psychosomatic cold isn’t funny which would make me delusional since I thought Kirsten Kluver was so funny I couldn’t recall a more brilliant performance in a musical comedy.
(I parted company with Bob Fischbach’s review which paired the performance of Seth Shirley with her Adelaide at the two big reasons to see the show. Yes, he’s good-looking and sings well, but his Sky Masterson wasn’t mature enough to rank, for example, above the Nathan Detroit of Jonathan Hickerson.)
Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to email@example.com.
Wedding uses humor to explore issue of gay marriage
BY BOB FISCHBACH
WORLD-HERALD STAFF WRITER
As a board member of SNAP Productions, director Todd Brooks knows gay marriage has been a hot national topic for years.
As a play director, Brooks is always seeking plays that fit SNAP’s mission of promoting tolerance and supporting the fight against AIDS.
In late 2008, he found one. “My Big Gay Italian Wedding” was just about to get the green light for off-Broadway when he contacted playwright Anthony Wilkinson, so the rights weren’t available right away.
“We planned a six-week run, and we just celebrated our one-year anniversary,” Wilkinson said last week from a cafe in Staten Island, where he grew up. “I think people are a little more curious and open minded about gay marriage now than a few years ago.”
Still, Wilkinson said he was stunned by the request to do his play in Omaha.
“Omaha will be the first city outside New York to do the show,” he said. “If you’d asked me a year ago who would be the first to do it, I might have said San Francisco or L.A. or Chicago, maybe somewhere in Florida. Omaha would not have been in my head.”
“My Big Gay Italian Wedding,” though fictional, is based on pieces of Wilkinson’s life and family. He wrote it in 2003, when he first met someone he could consider spend ing his life with.
The play is about how Anthony’s traditional Catholic, Italian family comes to terms with his marrying boyfriend Andrew. “They want the moms’ blessings,” he said. “They want a priest at the ceremony because they think that will make it right.
But priests can’t do that, and not all moms approve.”
It’s all approached through laughter rather than angst. Brooks, who saw the show in New York last month, said he’d been looking for a script with positive, upbeat images of alternative lifestyles.
“Anthony and Andrew face a lot of the same issues any marrying couple would go through,” Brooks said. “It’s a funny, happy show, great for summer.”
Wilkinson, 34, isn’t married, and he’s not with Andrew anymore. But he’s been in a relationship for five years.
“Coming from a big family in Staten Island, I was always going to weddings,” he said. “Now I know it’s possible one day I could have this opportunity.”
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