A show that has been in the works for over two years finally takes the stage this weekend as The Sauk, Hillsdale County’s community theatre, opens "Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding."
The production was in rehearsal, less than two weeks from opening, when the pandemic closed theaters in March 2020.
“It was devastating,” said Director Trinity Bird. “We had just purchased the dresses. We were just about to add the band to the rehearsals. Ticket sales were strong with almost 85 percent of tickets sold. Then, as we all know, everything just stopped.”
Now, almost exactly two years later, the production is set to open for two weekends of performances, March 24-April 3 at Johnny T’s Bistro in Hillsdale.
One of the longest running shows in Off-Broadway history, "Tony N' Tina's Wedding" gives new meaning to the phrase "And now for something completely different!" Audience members are the guests at the nuptial celebration of Anthony Nunzio and Valentina Vitale in all its tacky and hilarious glory. Following the church service is a reception where the audience joins the wedding party and their bickering families for a pasta dinner, wedding cake and dancing. This production contains strong language, simulated drug use and adult themes.
“After having our show shut down, I definitely felt like a "bridezilla" and wanted nothing more than to perform this show,” said Allison Cleveland, who plays Tina in the production. “To have it finally come to life two years later has almost been surreal for me! We have newcomers this time around and they've brought a whole new energy to the cast that's made the "oldies" up their game even more. For me personally, having the change in how Tony is portrayed has changed how I used to play Tina. She's developed stronger and in unexpected ways, and I feel like I'm able to give her more substance!”
Cleveland leads a cast that also includes Josh Lightner as Tony, Levi Socha as best man Barry, Shannon Chen as maid of honor Connie, Dylan Collier as usher Dominic, Mandee Howard as bridesmaid Donna, Tyson Duff as Tony's little brother Johnny, Tiffany Thatcher as bridesmaid Marina, Summer Housler as Tina's mother Josephina, Mike Sutton as Tina's Uncle Luigi, Andy Anderson as Tina's brother Joey, Savannah Bruton as Sister Albert Maria, Timothy Brayman as Tony's father Tony Sr., Travis Blatchley as Father Mark and Sandi Miller as Tony's grandmother. The cast also includes Nate Nelson as photographer Sal, Josh Hall as videographer Rick, Denise McCosh as Madeline, Kaleb Matthews as Michael, Aaron Guest as Vinnie and Roene Trevisan as Loretta. The live band consists of Isaiah Brown as Donny Dulce (vocals/bandleader), Gianna Green as Celeste (vocals), Andrea Ortell as Tammy (keyboard), Ty Rupert as Carlo (bass) and Jacob Boswell as Rocco (percussion).
The production is directed by Trinity Bird with stage management by Joella Hendrickson. The production team consists of Meaghan Bryant (costume design) and Bruce Crews (sound design). Production facilities, the meal and decorations are being provided by Johnny T's Bistro. Tuxedos are from Power’s Clothing in Jonesville. The bridesmaids dresses are from Patty’s Bridal in Quincy. The bride’s dress is from David’s Bridal in Portage. The wedding cakes are by the Jonesville Bakery in Jonesville.
Performances are at 7:30 p.m. March 24-26, March 31 and April 1, 2 with 3 p.m. matinees on March 27 and April 3. All performances take place at Johnny T's Bistro, 171 E. South St., Hillsdale. All tickets are $30 and includes dinner, cake and beverages. Tickets can be purchased at www.thesauk.org or by calling (517) 849-9100. Tickets are not available at the door and must be purchased at least 12 hours prior to the performance. As of Tuesday, March 22, an additional 20 seats have been added to each performance.
Cleveland promises a show that is worth the two-year wait.
“It's a whole new wedding each night, and I absolutely love hearing what some of my cast mates come up with,” Cleveland said. “I also love the bonds I've made with everyone. We're like a big, crazy family, and building those friendships has helped shape this show into something that is beautiful amidst the chaos. It's just fun to follow everyone's story and you never know what's going to happen next!”
"Tony N' Tina's Wedding" is sponsored by County National Bank with support from Johnny T's Bistro. The live music is supported by Moore Insurance Services. The Sauk’s 2022 season sponsor is Joyous Journey Photography. The 2022 media sponsor is Radio Hillsdale WCSR 92.1 FM/The Dale 99.5 FM.
This article originally appeared on Hillsdale Daily News: Sauk’s 'Tony N' Tina's Wedding' to take the stage after two year delay