Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is a one-of-a-kind night of entertainment. It’s an Off-Broadway show staged as a festive celebration. The audience doesn’t just watch, but participates directly, from the first toast to the last slice of cake. As two colorful and madcap Italian-American families come together as one, everyone in attendance joins in the fun as guests of the bride and groom.
What’s so special about the show is that it’s based on the universal human experience of a wedding ceremony. Everyone loves a wedding. Especially when it’s enlivened by surprises and unexpected family drama. By blurring the line between fantasy and reality, the show works its magic and draws the audience into eating, drinking, dancing and conversing, just as you would at a real wedding. Before you know it, you’ll be caught up in the celebration too, partying along with the rest of Tony n’ Tina’s family and friends as if you’ve known them for years. That’s how Tony n’ Tina have won over the hearts of countless thousands of people since the show first opened in New York City in 1988. Since then, it has gone on to enjoy extended runs and worldwide success. Performances have been in over 100 cities across the US, Europe and Asia.
The Birth of the Show
Interactive theater has a long and distinguished history in New York. As far back as the 1930’s, the Group Theater and playwrights such as Clifford Odets and Ayn Rand began tearing down the fourth wall with pioneering productions that blurred the line between cast and audience.
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is proud to extend this tradition by taking audience interactivity to an entirely new level. Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding originally grew out of improvisational work done by Mark Nassar and Nancy Cassaro while they were undergraduates together at Hofstra University from 1977-1981. Playing around as part of their classroom exercises, Mark and Nancy invented the characters of Tony and Tina, an Italian boyfriend and girlfriend from Queens. As Mark and Nancy graduated and developed professionally, so too did the characters of Tony and Tina, steadily acquiring more definition. Soon they hit upon the idea of staging an improvised wedding. Their circle of friends stood 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.
The Growth of the Show
Well, the rest is history. Joe Corcoran (another old friend from Hofstra) mounted a production of the show which ran for several weeks. It caught the eye of People Magazine, then The New York Times, Time Magazine, and eventually hundreds of media outlets throughout the world. They were all were delighted by this simple, yet brilliant, concept: a show staged in a familiar environment where the audience can eat, drink and dance all while interacting with characters that seemed oh-so-familiar.
In February 1988, Corcoran and his brother opened the first commercial production. The ceremony was performed at St. John’s Church on Christopher Street followed by a reception a few blocks away on Waverly Place. As part of every performance, the audience would walk together en masse from the ceremony to the reception, literally becoming a fixture of the Greenwich Village neighborhood over the course of an 11-year run.
Keeping It Fresh
Tony n’ Tina’s producers and creative team have always stayed focused on the importance of keeping the show fresh and relevant. Corcoran pioneered the technique of bringing celebrities into the cast. This enhanced the sense of audience identification and participation. In the 25 years since the show opened there have been countless celebrities who have been on hand to help Tony n’ Tina celebrate their big day.
But besides those coming as “friends of the family,” we have also had many guests who actually played characters in the show. In addition to Frankie Avalon joining our cast, we’ve had local sports stars (including a world champion boxer turned actor), several regulars of The Sopranos, the creator of Everybody Loves Raymond, local and national radio personalities, newscasters, a highly decorated police officer, in addition to numerous other current and past stars of the stage and screen. Having these particular individuals appear in the show has been a real treat for our guests. They were able to get up close and personal with them, interacting as they play other characters, or in some cases, just themselves. So, get yourself invited today to one of the best weddings you’ll ever attend.
P.S. Tony n’ Tina have many friends in show business so you’ll never know who you’ll end up sitting next to.