The day may be fast approaching when every single person who wants to be on reality TV will have the chance. Until then, there’s still "Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding."
It’s the show that lets you sit on the bench or get in the game. Most stand-up comics don’t welcome your heckling. Here, you might earn a back-slap if you crack up the father of the groom (Kevin Campbell), who has a keen wit of his own: "I never had a daughter before …" he says when called upon to make a toast. "But I never had an Asian broad either!"
Slinging Buds and chicken-dancing with mock-Brooklyn Italians may not be everyone’s idea of fun. But if you cross that threshold to rock the "Hollywood Nights" with sequined wedding singer Donny Dolce (Larry Atello), the interactive dinner theater has one of the stronger repeatability factors of any Vegas show.
The last time I saw it, I got the whole lowdown on the nun (now played by Kim Panke), learning her recent conversion might be tied to an unrequited thing for one of the groomsmen. This time, I didn’t talk to her at all.
But last time, I didn’t talk to the wasted, wedding-crashing ex of Tina. This time, I found out Michael (Adam Martinez) just checked out of rehab. "But I’m gonna have a good time no matter what," he told me, gesturing with his hip flask.
And this is how it’s supposed to work. You get the gist if you sit and watch, but learn more if you ask around. Even so, no one gets all the subplots in one evening.
The 20-person troupe moved out of a big warehouse space at the Rio and into a Planet Hollywood mezzanine area with softer lighting and better sound, but also some sight-line challenges from structural columns and a limited space for the action. But the cast reaches out to the perimeters, and there’s a Chippendales-type number as a bonus for the tables shunted away by the bar.
It feels more like a real wedding now. In keeping with prevailing real-life trends, there’s no head table for the wedding party. That’s bad for sorting out the characters or catching some scripted lines, but it puts more cast members right at the tables with patrons.
The ensemble has its share of turnover and is challenged to keep age-appropriate actors as the older characters. But the new version is riding strong from touch-up direction by the show’s co-creator, Larry Pellegrini.
The fast-moving two hours and 20 minutes includes a trip to the "boo-fet" for a respectable choice of pasta and chicken. But, like a real wedding, you’ll probably be too busy to really taste what you’re eating anyway.
The show has an odd knack for appealing less to theater buffs and more to the people it’s making fun of. But there’s something there for almost anyone who lets his guard down. Like the father’s stripper girlfriend says, "Some people don’t know class at all."
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.Slideshow
‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ an interactive theater experience that gets audience on its feet
“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding”
7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays
Planet Hollywood Resort, 3667 Las Vegas Blvd. South