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THE RIO HAS been home to many different types of entertainment ideas from bungee jumping performers, a parade in the sky, men dancing on stage in thongs, and of course some good old fashion Las Vegas entertainment like singing and playing music.
To add one more notch on the belt buckle of entertainment at the Rio is Tony 'n' Tina's Weddingan interactive dinner theater show re-enacting that of an Italian wedding reception. If you have never had an opportunity to experience an Italian wedding, (personally, I've had 3 myself) you can now. This show allows all who attend to become a part of the celebration itself. The wedding party "Italian Style" audience members are treated as invited guests.
However, let me bring you up to speed on what a traditional Italian wedding celebration is all about from my personal experience growing up in an Italian family. First of all, I was about the 8th cousin to join in on the celebration of "Matrimony Italian Style." We kind of all emulated each other as we grew up.
One would meet someone in the neighborhood who were probably not a compatible couple but they looked so cute. "Oh, how nice Johnny the butcher's son just met Mary the tailor's daughter, That's a Nice,"hoping that they would live happily ever after and some did, but most of us did not. We would then start going steady, get engaged and the engagement ringwell it had to compete with Carmella's one carat diamond.
After that the parties start, "The Engagement Party"they pick your Bridesmaids, Best Man and Usher's Party. The most important of all these parties is "The Serenade Party," (the night before the wedding). However, we can't forget the "Bachelor and Bachelorette Party." This is the one that puts the relationship to the test.
All of these parties came with associated festivities. This kind of kept you on a high with another family member tying the knot. Oh, we cannot forget the interactive fighting amongst the family. Who can't walk with Uncle Sam because he is mad at his sister-in-law's brother for not saying hello to him when they were at Uncle Mike's house for a Saint Joseph's Day celebration? Hence, the creation of "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding."
About the writers, producers and the History of Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding
Producers Joe Corcoran and Dan Corcoran, writers Mark Nassar and Nancy Cassaro along with a group of friend's created the original play through rote.
Since graduating from Rostra University in 1982, with a BBA in marketing and minor in Psychology, Joe Corcoran's professional career began in the world of finance, trading and selling municipal bonds for the Wall Street investment banking firm, Bear Stearns.
Dan Corcoran spent his first 12 years after college, as a Wall Street bond trader while simultaneously co-producing the original New York Company. The show opened in New York on February 14, 1988.
Mark Nassar explained to me, during a phone interview, that he and Nancy Cassaro were doing performance arts in the East Village in New York during the early '80s and at that time they were attending a lot of weddings, when 'bingo' the idea hit. They mutually agreed that they should do a mock-up wedding.
The interactive, environmental comedy, Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding was the creation of the Artificial Intelligence comedy troupe. Thirteen members share copyrighted authorship: Thomas Michael Allen, James Atoner, Mark Campbell, Nancy Cassaro, Patricia Cregan, Elizabeth Dennehy, Chris Fracchiolla, Jack Fris, Kevin Alexander Leonidas, Mark Nassar, Larry Pellegrini, Sue Varon and Moira Wilson.
Mark was a roommate with Joe who had access to the finances and invited him and Brother Dan to join in and help make the concept a realityas they say the rest is history.
Mark was the original Tony and Nancy was the original Tina. Mark currently plays Tony's dad in the Off-Broadway play.
Now in its 19th year running in New York, the show is the second-longest running show in Off-Broadway history. The show has had long-running productions in Chicago, Las Vegas, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Portland, Cleveland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore, Detroit, and Seattle. A national tour, beginning in 1999 and spanning 3 years brought the show to an additional 16 US markets, as well as international productions in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Frankfurt, Stockholm, Amsterdam, and Sydney. The show continually plays in open-ended and limited-run productions all over the world, currently the show is in its 6th year at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
Tony Sandrew aka Tony and Gret Menzies aka Tina and Assistant director Mike Suburn came into my studio for a radio interview and we discussed how much fun it is to play this stereotypical couple, while enjoying a wedding celebration nightly, personally three is enough for me at this time.