Bring your Mom with you to Chicago’s best party on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 14th! On top of two hours of hilarious interactive entertainment, we offer special gifts for the first 50 mothers who will come to the show. They will receive a rose from Ashland Addison Florist Company, a $25 gift card from Spavia Day Spa – Lincoln Park, and a $10 gift card from The Colette Collection. Get your tickets now!
Welcome, New Family Members!
We had an honor and a pleasure of hosting over 10,000 wedding crashers since the show opened in September 2016, and now Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding welcomes new cast members who will be joining the wedding party starting April 29th. The new cast members include Concetta Rose as “Tina.” She has been a member of the Tony n’ Tina’s family for the past twelve years, both in New York City as well as on the National Tour.
The Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding upcoming cast stars a mix of new and familiar faces, including Mitchell Conti as “Anthony Angelo Nunzio Jr (Tony),” Concetta Rose as “Valentina Lynne Vitale (Tina),” Rob Johnson as “Barry Wheeler,” Jessica Rzucidlo as “Connie Macogni,” Rory Zacher as “Dominick Fabrizzi,” Robin M. Bousel as “Donna Marsala,” Serena Pomerantz as “Marina Gulino,” Andrew Mancini as “Joey Vitale,” Alisha Fabbi as “Sister Albert Maria aka Terry Vitale,” Tommy Taylor as “Tony Nunzio, Sr.,” Carrie Campana as “Madeline Monroe,” Billy Minshall as “Father Mark,” Jean Bonavita as “Michael Just,” Eustace Allen as “Sal Antonucci,” Brian Noonan as “Vinnie Black,” Micah Spayer as “Donny Dulce,” Jennifer Pompa as “Josephina Vitale,” Susan Gaspar as “Aunt Rose,” Laureen Siciliano as “Loretta Black,” Jack Gallagher as “Mikey Black,” Hillary Jiminez as “Nikki Black,” and Frank Ondof as “Jimmy Black. Rounding out the cast in a variety of swing roles are Mark D’Arienzo, Jack Gallagher and Alexis Allotta.
Come meet the new family members in May!
Our Valentine’s Day Giveaway contest is officially on! Meet the seven couples who submitted their entries to the contest! Your vote will decide which couple will win a wedding reception courtesy of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding in Chicago.
Click on the image above to see the album; you can “like” the photos and share them with your friends. The photo that receives the highest number of “likes” by 11.59pm on Saturday, February 11, 2017 will determine the winning couple!
The prize includes: flowers by Dilly Lily; hair & makeup by Blown Away; tuxedos by Black Tie Formalwear; food by North Shore Catering & Events; cake by Dunkin’ Donuts Chef; performance by Blake Alexander; a photo booth from Talent City Artists, Inc; and full use of the reception hall at Chicago Theater Works – AND a pair of free tickets to the Feb 11th Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding performance! Our Media Partner is 94.7 WLS-FM Radio.
Calling all engaged Chicago couples: Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is inviting you to enter a social media contest to win the reception giveaway of a lifetime.
Speed up your engagement and wedding planning process and let your favorite bride and groom take over. Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is giving engaged couples the opportunity to submit a fun photo of themselves together with a brief caption about why they are the most deserving of the prize to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submissions will be accepted through Wednesday, February 4th. All images will then be posted to an album on the production’s Facebook page February 6th, where couples can encourage their friends to vote. The winning couple will be the one which receives the most amount of “likes”. They will receive complimentary tickets to the Valentine’s Day show on Saturday, February 11th, where they will meet and greet with the cast and receive details on their reception!
The prize for the winning couple will include the bride’s bouquet and groom’s boutonnieres provided by Dilly Lily, hair and makeup for the bride by Blown Away, a photo booth provided by Talent City Artists, live solo music for the cocktail hour and dinner by Blake Alexander, reception food by North Shore Catering, a cake provided by Dunkin Donuts Chef, five tuxedos/suits supplied by Black Tie Formalwear, and full use of the reception hall at Chicago Theatre Works (1113 W. Belmont Ave) and more! These giveaways and the reception are valid for redemption through April 2017.
This new production of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, “a guaranteed good time” according to the Chicago Reader, is presented by the original New York producers, in conjunction with Chicago Theater Works. Its previous run was one of Chicago’s longest running, smash hit shows that played an incredible 16 years.
Directed by Paul Stroili, a cast member in the original Chicago production, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is a hilariously interactive production that is guaranteed to make guests feel like they are truly friends and family of the bride and groom. The evening starts with the wedding at Resurrection Church, 3309 North Seminary Ave. Immediately following the ceremony, guests are invited to Vinnie Black’s Coliseum (Chicago Theater Works), 1113 W. Belmont Ave, for a flashback 80’s reception. From the wedding ceremony to the high-energy reception, guests will have the opportunity to celebrate alongside this larger-than-life couple and the large cast of 23 of Tony n’ Tina’s closest family and friends.
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is currently running through April of 2017. Tickets are $75 for the two-part event, which includes the ceremony and reception, featuring an Italian-style buffet dinner, dancing to 80’s hits and a champagne toast. Tickets for premium seating closest to the stage and dance floor are $85. Additionally, for 2017, a new opportunity is available to sit in the VIP section with members of the family for $99 per ticket. Discounts are available for groups of 16 or more by visiting GroupTix.net or by calling 773.327.3778. Seating is limited so make your plans now. For more information or to purchase tickets visit tonylovestina.com.
Congolese-American performer Simba Yangala told three of her friends “Come to my friend’s wedding.”
“They came on Congolese time,” she reports, so they missed the Tony n’ Tina ceremony and procession. At Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Grill, the three guys saw the bride and the groom, sat at their table with the beautiful red and white flower centerpiece and zebra stripe motif tablecloths and chair-backs set by the stunning Karen Corcoran, –which all immediately define the Tony n’ Tina experience as “Wedding.” They accepted the reality and sat down.
In 1997 at fifteen years old, Simba walked out of Lumbumbashi, then Zaire, when her parents’ tribes were at war. She made her way to New York and attended Newcomer’s High School in Queens. “We had students from 143 countries and even more languages spoken since most of the students spoke several languages especially the African students,” she reports, “I speak six languages.” Two of the guys she brought to Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding were from Kinchasa, and one from Kisangani, now the war torn Democratic Republic of the Congo. All have made New York City their home.
The first rustle in the fabric of reality came when the pasta and salad was served. The three guys asked for goat. “What kind of a wedding doesn’t serve meat and fish? See if the kitchen has goat meat.” Simba obliged and asked the caterers, the Black family—if there was any meat and fish.
“I went up the one who doesn’t smile and asked if they had fish.” (Nikki Black – played by powerhouse Concetta Rose Rella) “She looked at me in that way with that attitude and said, “Fish? The restaurant belongs to my Dad and I don’t care.” Then I went to the one in the blue dress. (Loretta Black played by superstar Susan Campanaro) and she came up to my friends and said, “The bride is Vegan so just eat what you got.”
“Your friends are weird,” the guys agreed, “who doesn’t have fish and goat at a wedding?” They sat politely and pretended that everything was fine, chocking it up to cultural differences. “Maybe this is the way it is in America.”
Grandma Nunzio visited their table and the three guys all said that they’d love to meet some nice American girls at the wedding, so Grandma obliged and brought them chicks all night long to talk and dance with. They seemed happy, but as Tony n’ Tina’s bizarre plot unwound and the characters come apart at the seams, the three guys became disconcerted and agitated.
“Wait the bride is drunk,” one said.
“The father in law is drunk,” said the second.
“Blasphemy! The mother-in-law and father-in-law are kissing!” yelled the third. And I saw the aluminum foil going to the tables. I am sure they are giving meat to some people just not us. Look, but don’t let them see you look. You see the aluminum foil going around?”
“Don’t tell the white people we are complaining.”
“The ex-boyfriend just stole the gift I saw him.”
“This wedding is bad. I heard the bride say she’s pregnant by the ex-boyfriend.”
The first guy began questioning the reality of it all. He’s a producer who runs the annual “Africa Awards.” He knows shows. The second guy, a documentary film cinematographer was ready to leave when Loretta Black pulled him to the dance floor and opened his shirt. He danced shirtless with all the groomsmen. “Ok,” he reasoned, “if it’s a crazy party we can be crazy too.”
At the end of the night Simba told the three, “I have to tell you. This is a play.” The first one laughed and accepted the fact, “Oh! It’s a show.” The second said, “But what kind of show is this?” and the third, a real estate agent refused to believe her. “No no no. This is not a play. This cannot be a play. She just doesn’t want to admit she has weird friends.”
Times Square, New York City. This is the center of the grid. Some quick googling procures this figure: 161 megawatts of electricity are used in Times Square at any one time. One megawatt can power 1,000 U.S. homes. Performing in a show in Times Square, we actors have our own human-megawatt ways of measuring. The energy produced through song, drama, and dance in all of the Broadway and off-Broadway houses in any moment can be measured only in the audiences’ smiles. This is our contract, this energy exchange between us, this light we make in the night. Night holds magic and surprise. Once you get behind the theater door and into your seat you are open to the spiritual commerce about to take place.
In Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, this experience is a level deeper. Playing “Grandma” I get to sit at many of the wedding guests’ tables, and we talk. That’s my role. To sit and connect with the people. I ask them their names and where they’re from. I take my photos out of my wallet with pictures of the old neighborhood and the old country. I talk with the grandmothers and grandfathers. I listen, as they scoot closer to me and tell me what they must. With some I connect deeper than with people I know in life and will see repeatedly. The chance to play Grandma gives me the opportunity to transform into a super hero of listening.
As I get into the wig and gown with the help of stellar wardrobe manager Rodney Harper and become Grandma, my superhero power is to engage others. She goes into the crowd, hands out butterscotch balls and connects to people’s nostalgia. It’s magic. Some hearts open instantly as she unsnaps her purse. In my conversation, I age up a generation, I talk about pushcart peddlers and icemen and WWII and the times when doctors made house calls, and all of the Bronx stories I know from my parents’ generation. We talk about the way things used to be. We take photos, and then, later, I tweet and blog about it. I can see when the elders in the audience enter their own memory bank, prodded by the world of the wedding. I remember them for long after, the antique jewelry they wore for the occasion, the stories they told, their initial reluctance to get up out of the security of their chairs and their joy when they venture to the dance floor with a steady arm to escort them. I remember their gratitude for a hot cup of coffee brought by Loretta Black, or a bag of ice to nurse their knee.
We all have the same needs, not the same level at the same moment, but in the suspended clock of theater, in that eternal bliss where three hours feels like a lifetime – we believe we are related, and in truth, a truth much too vast to comprehend, we are.
The other night, I pulled the I.V. outta my hand, bandaged it up and drove cross-town to perform in Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding – Off-Broadway in Times Square. I took my pneumonia and walked out with nebulizer meds and loaded on Prednisone, “which will give you a Superman feeling like you can do anything,” my nurse told me.
In our dressing room, I wore my hospital robe as I got into my wig, makeup, and costume and performed. I’ve performed sick and with fevers before, high fevers. If I was the type to wait until I was “well” in life, I’d never do anything, and so, sweating – and breathing deliberately – I perform. I got through college with a tumor the size of a basketball in my chest; so nothing will stop me now – unless it truly stops me. Performing is the cure. Living is the mandate. This show has a deep level of devotion for a reason no one can know unless we tell you, so here it is. We are all here for many different reasons but with a common root: that this is the cherry on top of the struggle for survival – a belief that what we are doing has a spiritual and life purpose and is for the good in the world. I’ve heard at least one actor express this in spiritual terms: it’s a sense of mission to make people happy and to bring joy to hundreds.
I have a deep spiritual connection with my producers, Joe Corcoran and Karen Cellini. Here’s our story. I was teaching a theater workshop at my alma mater, Sarah Lawrence College. I brought my favorite prop with me, a branch from my grandmother’s peach tree. I have the branch covered with red, white, and blue wool fringe and brass keys that ring like bells. One woman in the class, Karen Cellini, took her turn with the grandma branch, and as soon as she held and danced with it, we were both hit with the same feeling and words: “when are we gonna work together?” In our first meeting to talk one-on-one, Karen said, you have to meet my husband Joe Corcoran. And the rest was destiny, and now, it’s theater history.
Joe and I connected immediately about our shared medical history. We are both alumnae of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. He had lung cancer, and I had Hodgkin’s Disease at eighteen years old and later Thyroid Cancer as a result of the radiation treatments. Joe and I shared, on a deep level, this question of – given a lifespan challenged and threatened by grave cancer, what are you going to do with the god-given time you have? And we both have the same friggin’ answer: “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding – Times Square 2014.”
Catharsis cures. You gotta live while you’re alive. That’s the bottom line we agree on. Otherwise, what’s all the suffering good for? You have to go out and have a good giant laugh and cry. This is ancient. You gotta dance around the fire and open your lungs. We all need this and we need it together. I know if you talk to all 27 cast members, plus the crew, you’ll find more stories with the same rally cry: we need to do this. It makes life worth it. And it’s this deep bond that shines this show to a radiant sheen. You will shine when you leave and carry that with you.
Chances are I’ll end up back on the east side in urgent care, and I know that when I do, I’m gonna rip off that hospital bracelet and head west to Times Square for showtime. I’m gonna keep going west, to the stage. To Broadway. To 44th and 7th Ave. To the fun. The gioia di vivere. To Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding to become Grandma Nunzio, who never was sick a day in her life! I’m gonna keep doing the tarantella, eating garlic and boil ginger, and taking my herbs and yelling and clearing my lungs. As we used to say in the Bronx in the 60s, I will “keep on truckin.”
See you on the dance floor!
Annie Lanzillotto a.k.a. Grandma Nunzio
(Photo: Carolina Kroon Photography)
I went to so many Italian American weddings all throughout my life that I never felt the need to go to “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” throughout the 80’s and 90’s. I had so many cousins and one by one they all walked down the aisle and I had lived through all the agida (stomach agitation) and all the acida (stomach acid) with the families, –who don’t talk to who, who can’t sit near who, who don’t like who, who owes who money, who don’t like what the other one does, what groom is going with what bridesmaid, what indiscretions did the guys do for their bachelor party antics, etcetera.
I knew from an early age that I’d never be the bride, the lady in the big white dress shaped like a fountain who takes her father’s arm and is “given away.” There was something I hated about weddings. I remember looking up that giant aisle in 1971 when I was a flower girl at Santa Maria Church in the Bronx for my brother’s wedding. He just got home from being a Marine serving in Viet Nam. His fiancè told me to hold her nephew’s hand, the ring bearer, and walk up the aisle. I couldn’t do it. I looked him in the eye and refused to hold his hand. If I had to walk that plank, I was doing it alone. Bride after bride I watched walk that walk, dance that dance with the father, and I watched all the ice swans melt as the Venetian Hours were raved about.
Now I am “in” the wedding. I play “Grandma Nunzio” in the 25th anniversary show of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” – in Times Square. I invite people to come to a show I never got around to see myself. I hear from a lot of Italian Americans, “I never saw that. I never felt the need. I went to so many Italian American weddings as it was.” I hear that over and over and I remember that feeling. So I came up with a list of reasons why Italian American New Yorkers must see this show, this time, in Times Square.
- There is no where else you can do the tarentella in New York City with a group of 200 strangers.
- You can let out all the years of all the problems of all the family weddings you’ve ever been to, and purge the memories and tell the stories.
- You can sing along with Louis Prima hits, and sing to me, Grandma.
- I will give you a butterscotch ball and whisper “Mangia” the way your Grandma did to you and make you cry with nostalgia.
- Like the greatest of Fellini images, we gotta live with the surrealismo of who we are as a culture.
- Commedia dell’arte is in our blood. We are natural born improvisers, story tellers, pranksters.
- This show has a magic formula. Fun. Food. Song. Dance. Family fights.
- You will walk away whistling, and sing in the days after.
- You will want to come back and bring your friends and family.
- You can let loose. Talk with the characters about your family. Complain all you want. It’s cheap therapy, I’d say about two grand worth for the price of a ticket.
- New Yorkers are great to party with. Come hang out all night.
- You will never experience Times Square like this, in a wedding procession of 200 plus us characters.
- It’s the fun without the aggravation. For once, you can laugh at the family dramatics, instead of getting twisted.
- Vino. Pasta. Cake.
- Tarentella, live singing, live dancing, gorgeous actors who put out tons of energy for your entertainment.
- Hear real Bronx accents.
- Striptease. Rap. Crooning. Conga Line. Mambo Italiano.
- Everything except the Hokey Pokey. But we can do that on the sidelines.
- Bring your memories and your dancing shoes, and don’t miss the best most therapeutic party for Italian American New Yorkers.
The hallmark of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is the street procession that has been taking audience / wedding revelers on a walk through New York City streets for twenty-five years. That’s how New Yorkers know the show, by witnessing this procession that has taken place thousands of times. What a blessed thing. It is our streets that bring us together in New York. It is our walking.
Street processions are a profound aspect of Italian American culture, religious festivals, and rites of passage. Remember Michael Corleone’s Sicilian wedding procession with live band? Ever been to a Giglio feast in Williamsburg or East Harlem where the six story tower and statue is carried on a group’s shoulders? Ever visit a small town in Italy during their religious procession around the town piazza?
Don’t you love the processions in Fellini films?!
Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding procession from the ceremony to the reception is bigger, better and more exciting than ever. We walk through Times Square enmasse. Two hundred people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe walk together through the neon lit night and omnipresent traffic from The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School for International Careers on 46th Street between 6th & 7th Ave., to the reception party at Guy Fieri’s American Kitchen and Bar, on 44th between 7th & 8th Ave. We walk right through Shubert Alley to our reception party. Tony in his white tux, and Tina in her Kleinfeld super gown lead the way. The bridesmaids and groomsmen and family and friends mingle enroute. Grandma Nunzio gets pushed speedily and wildly by her grandson Johnny, but her lucky cane hooks him behind the neck to steer him through traffic. Grandma doesn’t like to wait for the traffic she likes to part it.
Dante began his trilogy with these immortal words: “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita…” In the middle of the walk of our life… Come take this walk friends, this walk of New York, this wedding night when New Yorkers truly take back New York. Come walk with us and let the lights surround you.
aka Annie Lanzillotto