|Erin Bickler and Steve Horton|
By Tina Arth
How does one review a show when, due to its interactive design, it will never be the same twice – especially a show with no real purpose other than just to provide a fun evening? The answer is simple – success for such a show is that everyone is completely engaged and has a good time. By that standard, Mask & Mirror’s Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding is a runaway success. This is a show that (audience aside) really takes a village, and Directors Gary Romans and Kathryn Stevens have harnessed a huge cast plus tons of community support to bring it to a public so eager that all eight performances sold out well before the show’s opening!
Imagine that you are a guest at a big working-class Catholic Italian family wedding – with all of the interfamilial drama this might entail (especially if all of the men in the wedding party had been arrested for drunk in public, and there’s only enough money available to bail out the groom and best man). Start in the chapel, where an unsuspecting male audience member is drafted to walk the bride down the aisle, a very gregarious nun remembers you from your teaching days at St. Ignatius, and we are all given the lyrics for a sing-along version of the spiritual hymn, One Tin Soldier (many of us in the audience/pews were old enough to remember this gem from its 1960’s folk-rock origins). A heavily made-up woman in a scandalously short leopard print dress with scandalously long legs does a pitch-perfect a cappella aria (she even brings her own pitch pipe). After innumerable mishaps, the wedding ceremony concludes and we retire to the church reception hall for an elegant catered reception (starting with spray on cheez and Ritz crackers, still clad in their elegant waxed-paper sleeves). The show goes on with singing, dancing, feasting at our assigned tables (with a few cast members sprinkled around to keep the illusion going) as the bride, groom, in-laws, nun, priest, and an assortment of odd relatives help us to forget that we are at a performance, not a real wedding. Even non-dancers like me get involved by doing the chicken dance from our chairs as braver audience folk career around the dance floor with each other and the cast. Bottom line? It’s really fun!
As groom and bride Tony and Tina, Les Ico and Erin Bickler create and maintain their characters with panache. Bickler’s accent, volume, and strident voice tell us all we need to know about this Bridezilla, and Ico maintains the cheerful calm that Tony needs to put up with Tina and her eccentric clan (not that his is much better!). My personal favorites were Steve Horton (as the ancient but still horny Uncle Lui) and Gabrielle Widman as Maddy, the feline soprano stripper/escort who scandalizes the rest of the “family” – a fabulous combination of diva and floozy. Ted Schroeder’s bandana-clad ex-boyfriend is a hoot, and although I couldn’t see everything going on at the reception, I certainly could not miss the touching (literally) moment when he kisses, then gropes, the bride. I cannot possible do justice to the many exquisitely tacky moments delivered by the enormous cast – it’s just one of those situations where you have to be there!
Fortunately (for Mask & Mirror), as mentioned before, all eight performances sold out before opening night, so there’s no point in my exhorting you to rush out and buy tickets. Congratulations to the directors, cast, musicians, and sponsors who pooled their talents to pull off this odd extravaganza.
Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding runs through Sunday, September 30th at the Tigard United Methodist Church, 9845 SW Walnut Place, Tigard.