The Village Playhouse

Mount Pleasant, South Carolina - July 2000

The Midtown Theater

Charleston, South Carolina - May 2000

The Midtown Theater

Charleston, South Carolina - May 1999

Taste of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina - March 1998

Taste of Charleston

Charleston, South Carolina - March 1997

Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding “A Blast”

BY ROBERT JONES

Post & Courier - May 6, 2000

Another problem in writing this column is that so many shows don’t get talked about until after they’ve packed up and gone. You’d have had a blast at Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, the entertainment that had a sold-out run at Midtown Theatre during the first week of the Festival ...



.. There are quite a lot of fine actors in Charleston, and the “T&T” cast was staffed with the looniest of them. The big share of credit goes to Steve Lepre, one of the best directors in town, and a real expert in lunatic comedy. Sometime ago Mr. Lepre put on Psycho Beach Party with many of the “T&T” actors, and I still crack up when I think of it. Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, though, is more a family show than Psycho... and could probably run forever right where it is. If you’re an out-of-towner and come back for the Festival next year, check the schedule.

1/17

Spaghetti, Songs, and Stanzas

BY S.E. Barcus

Charleston City Paper​ - May 31, 2000

Perhaps the best thing to see outside the official theater series, if you’re a theatre-buff, is the audience-interactive show over at the Midtown Theatre’s cabaret series: Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding.



This longtime off-Broadway hit has come to Charleston via a gaggle of our most talented theater artists, including director Steve Lepre - who gets my vote for Best Director in town --and a cast almost completely lifted from his version of Psycho Beach Party, perhaps my favorite production since moving to Charleston two years ago. Dave Reinwald stars as the sex-craved Dominic and Jennifer Croker-Poole as his chick, Keely Enright and Jeff Jordan as the hosts with da mosts, Rob Duren as Barry da moneybags, and Dick Latham - once again in drag - as Aunt Rose.



Throw in local acting regulars, several of whom come from Lepre’s direction of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, like Edie Allen as Tina and David Jenkins as Tony - and now you have the best possible group or people to bring this show home successfully.



So, do they? Well, I had a blast. From the moment you walk in you’re getting slaps on the back from the more than- egregious - I mean gregarious - Nunzio and Vitaie familias. You’re overhearing family feuds about which cousins are strippers, which ones are drinkers or adulterers.



Once seated, you are treated to several “guests’ mingling, coming to you, asking if you know the bride or groom, and revealing their own personal relation and gossip. Piece all of these ramblings together by the end of the show , and you’ve got yourself a unique theatrical experience like no other. Go again the next day and they’ll pull off something completely different.



Don’t like audience participation, you say? No problem Sit in a corner somewhere (definitely avoid the aisles), and just watch the shenanigans from a distance. If you don’t know anyone in Charleston, but would like to go to ,,a party,,, this is a great way to just kick back with a beer and listen to and watch all of the silly debauchery that is this ,,tackiest wedding in America “ Don’t be surprised if your dancing feet start itching to move when everyone circles up for the Love Train, though! Oh - don’t hesitate to actually get you some grub: it ain’t half bad!



While the show has liberal opportunities for improvisation by the cast, there are, of course, scripted moments that move the evening along nicely. Some of my favorites include grandpa having to get up to pee during the vows, and the nun leading us through Kumbaya with the line, “If you even think about divorce you will go straight to Hell, Kum-ba-ya ...,, This is one of those shows where if you come out of it saying, “lt was kinda boring,” well you got no one but yourself to blame, baby...

​​Midtown’s `T&T’ is a crazy trip

BY ROBERT JONENS

Post & Courier - August 6, 2000

Three months from now I will go to one of my favorite places, the Coastal Carolina Fair in Ladson. Not only will I go for the gloriously greasy junk food, but for a unique sensory experience. When I’ve finished with the sausages and the pizza and the elephant ears, I will head for the Midway area. I will walk through the gate, turn left and follow the circular path until I arrive at about the 11 o’clock position. That’s where the lights are the most intense, and where the noise and movement seem to be circling like a typhoon. It’s very high-making. It’s like being back in the Sixties and getting stoned on something loud and long and mesmerizing.

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I thought of all that the other night at Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding, which was winding down a considerable run at Midtown Theatre. “T&T” is rather like the midway at the fair. It’s loud and frenetic, and it doesn’t really make much sense, but it focuses your attention on an avalanche of things, and all the while that focus is shifting and changing. In a way, “T&T” resembles early minimalism, and it can be as active or as passive an experience as you want. Like the midway, the show can also be a bit threatening: You’re always nervous that the actors are going to grab you and force you to dance or act or sing, and they often do.

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Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding is one of the strangest pieces on the current stage. It’s a huge popular success - it seems to have been running forever, and in all parts of the world - but it isn’t really a play at all. It has virtually no story, no character development, not even “leading” characters. All it is, is a romp, a triumphantly effective piece of sustained craziness.

Instead of a story line, there is a “situation.” Tony and Tina are this young couple in a second-generation American Italian neighborhood of vaguely Mafioso aspect. Tony’s family doesn’t much like Tina’s, and Tina’s doesn’t much like Tony’s either. But here they all are, tying the knot and throwing a reception. You, the audience, are the guests. From here on, it’s a picture of an ethnic wedding at its rowdiest. People get drunk, lust breaks out in unexpected places, animosities burst forth, and when everybody lines up for lasagna at the buffet table, you can’t concentrate on the food for all the family fights going on around you.

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I don’t know what Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding looks like in other productions, but I cannot imagine it’s more fun than the one at Midtown. The director was Steve Lepre, a man who is happiest when he’s in the midst of a maelstrom. (If you’re lucky, you caught his Psycho Beach Party a couple of years ago.) Mr. Lepre knows that words don’t mean a thing in this show, and that havoc should reign. Fortunately, it does, and one of the pleasures of the show was the sight of Mr. Lepre up in the light booth, directing the hurricane with a pair of those handheld flashlights used by airline personnel. From start to finish, Mr. Lepre hardly made a wrong move. The best jokes are the ones that are accurate as well as funny.

As to the food served at the wedding feast, there was macaroni with red sauce and lettuce without tomatoes. At an ethnic wedding, of course, the big money, and the imagination, goes into the food, but Midtown Theatre never pretended to be a restaurant. This pasta wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good either. Fortunately, Mr. Lepre and his troupe of clowns provided ample distraction from what lay on the plates.