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My Big Gay Italian Wedding

Self-presented at the Actors' Playhouse, 100 Seventh Ave. South, NYC. Opened Nov. 14 for an open run, playing Friday evenings and Saturday afternoons only.

The title hardly promises nuance and subtlety, but, even so, as an exercise in obviousness, this show takes the wedding cake. With a cast of 24, this raucous entertainment is the creation of Anthony J. Wilkinson, who also happens to play the leading role of Anthony Pinnunziato, one of the intended. Stealing wholesale from several recognizable sources, Wilkinson has stitched together—using clichés as thread—a campy cartoon comedy. With its sledgehammer stereotypes, both cultural and sexual, this show clearly sets out to be an equal opportunity offender. The energetic production, under Peter Rapanaro's direction, combines the awkwardness and desperate desire to please that might be found in a high school auditorium. It may be unoriginal, but it is also lively, and many in the audience responded heartily to the show's good, if heavy-handed, intentions.

Anthony and Andrew Polinski (Bill Fischer) are to be married. Anthony wants a traditional Italian wedding, but his parents, Joseph (Joe Scanio) and Carmela (Maria Nazzaro), insist on the ceremony being performed by a priest and that Andrew's estranged mother must be present. Add to this the machinations of Andrew's ex-boyfriend Gregorio (Vincent Briguccia), who becomes the play's arch villain—and I do mean arch—and you almost have the whole plot. The best bits are the send-ups of an Italian family and friends, plus the presence of Kevin T. Moore as Andrew's supposed mother, not estranged but just plain strange. As friends from the 'hood, Joe Grimaldi, Nick Scarnati, Rocco Parente, Jr., and Yvonne Roen add authenticity.

Playwright Wilkinson lacks an ear for wit, so the only wit on show here is visual, supplied in the costumes of the ingenious Chris March. Especially notable are the bridesmaids' dresses in stretch pink with large bunches of grapes as accessories. His many clever creations precisely capture the over-the-top spirit that is the lifeblood of this show.

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