In ‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,’ audience gets chance to participate in improvised ceremony

Audience gets chance to participate in improvised reception

Weddings: same story, different characters.

Unless you’re attending Tony and Tina’s wedding: same characters, different story.

They were first married off Broadway in 1988, and they’ve been taking vows since. Sometimes their wedding will be in Chicago, other times in Las Vegas.

And for the next two weekends, they’ll bring their wedding to the capital city when Theatre Baton Rouge stages “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” at the Greenoaks Funeral Reception Hall.

“I’ve been telling people it’s an interactive dinner theater,” Carole Moore says.

Moore is Theatre Baton Rouge’s box office manager as well as one of the cast members in this production that operates only on an outline.

Everything’s improvised, so when audiences attend “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding,” the outcome is different each time.

The production is Theatre Baton Rouge’s summer fundraiser. Seating is limited to 75 for each performance, and the first two on Friday and Saturday, July 11-12, are sold out.

“But we have tickets for the performances on July 18 and 19,” Moore says. “Greenoaks Funeral Home was very gracious in donating their space, so we have to limit the number of seats in the room.”

The set-up is simple: the room is laid out for Tony’s and Tina’s wedding reception. Guests are seated at specific tables, and dinner will be served with a wine cash bar available.

And from that point, the story is left to Tony, Tina and their families.

“We have a cast, but there is no script,” Moore says. “So, you really don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ is the joining of two madcap Italian-American families.

The play’s website, tonylovestina.com, describes the production as “a festive celebration in which the audience doesn’t just watch but participates directly, from the first toast to the last slice of cake.”

Hofstra University undergraduates Mark Nassar and Nancy Cassaro developed the production between 1977 and 1981, starting out as classroom exercises.

“As Mark and Nancy graduated and developed professionally, so too did the characters of Tony and Tina, steadily acquiring more definition,” the website says. “Soon, they hit upon the idea of staging an improvised wedding with their circle of friends standing in to play the various members of the wedding party. From the very first staging, it was clear that Mark and Nancy had found a way to bring these characters fully to life in an experience that could be shared directly with the audience.”

Since 1988, the show has played in more than 100 cities throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Moore says. “You never know what’s going to happen. You just come and watch as this family slowly disintegrates.”

Same story, different characters?

Never when Tony and Tina are getting married.