SARATOGA — The Off-Broadway sensation “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” will be arriving at Saratoga’s Universal Preservation Hall Jan. 18-21, for six performances, and feature local faces.
“We like to use local actors. We search improvisation venues for actors. We post notices, and anyone who thinks that they can do something to our show in a positive and wonderful way is always welcome to do it,” said director and actor Anthony Patellis. “We love having them and supporting local talent.”
The lively, improvisational show will feature locally cast talent and provide audiences with a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.
“We find that regional areas in the United States have wonderful talent that doesn’t always get to do a show like this, where they get to showcase their improvisational skills,” he continued.
Patellis, whom audience members may recognize from hit shows such as “The Sopranos,” “Tulsa King” and “Law and Order: SVU,” described his excitement about how the casting process has developed locally.
“It gives the community a chance to support their own local talent,” he added.
In addition to the casting of talent from the Capital Region, the audience itself will be a character in “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding,” as the “guests” of the newlywed couple. This imaginative opportunity allows the audience to interact with the cast and be treated by them as if they are family and close friends. The production performs like a real wedding, with food, dancing, conversation and even wedding cake.
“There’s dancing, mingling and gathering in the bar. If you want to participate in that, you’re welcome to do it,” said Patellis.
The cast interactions are typically personal, comedic conversations between the actor and the “guest” audience member, where the actor will often improvisationally reveal some of the backstory of Tony, Tina or their family. By the end of the show, there is an arc in the storyline that has been creatively shared around the whole room.
A favorite moment for him as a director and actor is observing the excitement in the audience’s faces as the show unfolds and they can take part in it.
“It’s the wonderment and surprise that I’m always elated by,” he said, regarding the bond the show forms between the cast and audience. “I think that connection is everything.”
“We know that when we walk away from them, that audience member turns and tells the entire table about the conversation that they just had or the piece of information that they learned about Tina and Tony,” he explained.
Audience members are not expected to perform on the stage or interact if they would prefer not to. For audience members who hesitate to attend an interactive show, Patellis noted that it’s the actor who senses the comfort level of each audience member and follows their lead.
“No one in the cast wants to make anyone feel uncomfortable or participate in anything they would prefer not to,” he emphasized. “If the audience just wants to sit back and enjoy the show, they can as well!”
The imaginative production of “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” has been making an impact since it first debuted in 1985.
“When it opened Off-Broadway, the style of production was so new, it had never been done before,” said Patellis.
The show caught the attention of New York City with its debut. The blurred lines of breaking down the fourth wall were revolutionary for the theater community, and the show has become an enormous hit ever since. Patellis highlighted that one of the secrets to the success of “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding” is the love behind it.
“Weddings bring out a lot of love,” he said. “We always say that what we’re really spreading in this show, aside from entertainment, is a feeling of love, joy and celebration. That’s what a wedding is. That’s what we want to impart: love.”
For more information, visit: https://atuph.org.