Saturday, October 3, 2009

review - a big gay north hollywood wedding

A Big Gay North Hollywood Wedding
by William A. Reilly and Ben Rovner
directed by William A. Reilly
Crown City Theatre Company
through October 25
I loved Tony and Tina's Wedding. So, naturally I expected that Crown City Theatre, who was producing A Big Gay North Hollywood Wedding, would let pigs fly and be out and out outrageous. I looked forward to the queer nuptials with glee. So many dramatic and humorous possibilities! Well, I'm sorry to say, I was quite disappointed...not with the actors or the production values, but with the script... that takes itself far too literally and plays out like an actual wedding instead of a surreal play.
St. Matthew's Lutheran Church is the setting for Part I where the exchange of vows between Brent Logan (Sterling Price) and Josh Weinberg (Ben Rovner) takes place. Within the course of 30-35 minutes, an usher passes out copious amounts of kleenex, a ditzy photographer snaps polaroids of just about everyone in sight, a visiting aunt from New Jersey goes to the ladies' room, gets locked out and must knock loudly - during the crucial part of the ceremony - to get back into the church - and perhaps the screwiest mishap - 2 guys are caught making out in the choir loft in full view of the entire congregation at the onset. There are laughs, yes, but not enough of them. And what is funny could be much funnier! Why not put anti-gay picketers out front? Why not have one burst into the church and scream " Same sex marriage is illegal!" or "Death to homosexuals!" only to be thrown out by a bevy of ushers. There are so many missed opportunites. Brent Logan's mom (Jodi Harrison) is a drug addict and she and her husband Phil (Bob Dean) are vehemently opposed to the marriage. Why not have them throw a huge tantrum in the lobby of the church in front of everyone before entering? "Why did you drag me to this goddamn fiasco? I refuse to go in and see our son ruin his entire life!" Could be uproarious!
Then there's Part II, the reception in the theatre space behind the church. Thank God, there's cake and champagne, some dancing and a few saucy musical numbers to please, but for the most part during the course of 90 minutes, there's at least an hour where people merely drink, mingle and chat. Nothing happens to threaten the new couple's future happiness until the last 30 minutes. And when the dramatic conflict arises, it is silly, very weak and is too quickly resolved.
As I recall there were scenes in Tony and Tina's Wedding played out in every crook and cranny of the reception room and the audience had to get up and follow a mutitude of sexual, drunken or darkly tainted entanglements. All it takes is to bring the lights up on a certain area, talk loudly and the audience will follow long - gladly!
Aunt Myra's (a very delightful Yiddisha interp by Evelyn Celic) present and her description of Josh's parents' demise will hardly be forgotten - it surely appealed to my dark sense of humor, nor will Tiffany Sutter's (Jackie Nico), girlfriend of Brent's brother Bobby (Dane White), physical attack on the gal that tries to steal a dance with him. Nico is hilarious as this jealous and inebriated woman and she should be given more funny business to do in the script. She chatted with me, but was not given juicy info to disclose. What if she found Bobby in the broomcloset or behind the bar having a quickie with a waiter? She'd faint and they'd have to carry her away!
Loved the dance numbers. It was fun to revisit The Village People and loved sexy Aussie L (Ben Pauley) whose entertaining dance gyrations and song during the ceremony ("You Are That Man" by Reilly and Rovner) provided some long-awaited enjoyable moments.
Rewrite, guys, you have the potential for such a great show here. At present, much of it is colorless and uneventful.
3 out of 5 stars


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