Monday, October 1, 2012

REVIEW: My Big Gay Italian Wedding by WAG Productions

Fringe Club, Saturday September 29 2012

The show was flamingly camp, ridiculously silly and almost funny, but definitely a lot of fun.

The play, by Anthony J. Wilkinson, was more like a cabaret act and by that I am trying to indicate that the story is so contrived and so predictable that the construction of the plot must have been devised to create more of a theme or an excuse, rather than to underscore any form of personal truth or a perceptive insight into the human mind, attitudes or behavior. Once you get over that and treat the performance like a big fat cabaret act, then the fun really starts.

My Big Gay Italian Wedding is about Anthony Pinnunziato (played by Michael Rogers), a gay Italian-American who wants to marry his lover Andrew Polinski (played by Lester Clark) in a traditional Italian ceremony that he can’t afford. Anthony’s mother (played by Cindy Bayne) will only give her blessing if Andrew’s estranged mother gives her blessing and if the ceremony is performed by the family priest Father Rosalia (played by Damian Coory). Aside from the obvious problems, throw in Andrew’s jealous ex-lover, and then you get the gist of the show.

Directed by Wendy Herbert, who seemed to be aware of the shallowness and inadequacy of the material she chose, she inserted two “Shakespearean”-like sermons about love and relationships and a monologue by the wedding photographer. Unfortunately, these additions were so out-of-place that they broke the pace and rhythm of the whole show, rather than enhancing it.

The actors filled the show with every possible stereotype imaginable. Imagine the wealth of gesticulations, postures, intonations, make-ups and costumes that they can draw from being “gay” and “Italian”; and they did! Where they did not succeed in terms of variety, they certainly did in terms of intensity and frequency. The result was inevitably “amusing”.

Some of the better and believable performances came from Lester Clark’s Andrew and Jai Ignacio’s Gregorio. Their characters show normalcy amidst hysteria. Speaking of hysteria, Rye Bautista as the wedding planner Maurizio Legrande and Keon Lee as the fake mother of Andrew, were both deliciously over-the-top and funny. Ying Fu as the lesbian schemer behind the wedding was impressive in her debut. Last but not the least, Damian Coory as Father Rosalia was effortlessly comic especially in facial expression (he reminds me Rodney Dangerfield for some reason).

There remain two performances at the Hemingway’s Discovery Bay on October 5 and Grappa’s Cellar Central on October 7. Manage your expectations but please go, enjoy, have fun, laugh at it and with it.

_____
My Big Gay Italian Wedding
by Anthony J. Wilkinson
Fringe Club, September 25-29 2012

Creative Team
Director: Wendy Herbert
Producers: Petra Fairweather, Michael Bradley
Stage Manager: Karly Cox
Musical Director: Micah Sandt
Choreography: Rye Bautista

Cast includes:
Anthony Pinnunziato: Michael Rogers
Andrew Polinski: Lester Clark
Angela Pinnunziato: Cindy Bayne
Joseph Pinnunziato: Albert Grey
Father Rosalia: Damian Coory
Maurizio Legrande: Rye Bautista
Gregorio: Jai Ignacio
Mario: Jason Clark
Lucy: Ying Fu
Connie - Lara Genovese
Maria: Cassandra Kaoustos
Rodney: Keon Lee
Aunt Tonnian: Ines Laimins
Frankie: Damien Barnes
Ensemble: Shirley Sheung & Matthew Taverner

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