My Big Gay Italian Funeral
Writing this review is truly a labor of love. I am incredibly proud of my friend Anthony Wilkinson, the genius responsible for this show. He has accomplished so many goals that others only dream about.
For a lot of folks, winning 3 Emmy Awards would be a satisfying lifetime achievement, but for Anthony Wilkinson television was just the beginning of many successful endeavors.
His hit show "My Big Gay Italian Wedding" has been running off-Broadway for years and this past weekend, he brought to the New York stage his most recent work, "My Big Gay Italian Funeral".
What audiences need to know about this show is this is a new and separate show that stands on its own. Fans of Wedding will of course recognize a few of our favorite characters but Funeral is a whole new show with an entirely different "vibe". Just as Wilkinson has grown and evolved over the years, so have his characters. Be assured, we definitely still get to enjoy Wilkinson's classic humor in Funeral (there are dancing drag queens and a psychic after all!!) but we also get to experience his more matured and sophisticated style. This production goes deeper and adds a level of heart that allows us to feel even closer to our favorite characters and our own emotions. This is a show more about family than anything else. In Funeral we learn of some pivotal events that happened prior to the Wedding and we catch up with the Pinnunziato's 10 years after the Wedding. Wilkinson introduces us to new and very entertaining characters portrayed brilliantly by a cohesive cast.
Stand out performances in this production include the extraordinary versatility of comedienne extraordinaire Meagan Robar, the hilarious and over the top delivery by Erik Ranson as psychic Vidal Dubois and the the tender and touching performance by Chad Kessler as a Rabbi Howie Horowitz. Wilkinson resumes his roles as Anthony Pinnunziato in "My Big Gay Italian Funeral" and takes his acting to a new level as we experience a depth and sensitivity not previously revealed in Wedding. Fortunately for all, Maurizio LeGrande played by the comedic genius Brett Douglas, finds his way to "the Island of Staten" for this funeral and brings along with him his irrespressible humor. Thank Gawd! Maria (Anthony's sister) is once again played by Marissa Perry. Maria has a few surprises in store for all. Perry delivers with heart and perfect comedic timing. Donna Castellano resumes her role as Anthony's mother with the fiery passion that only an Italian mother can. Lucia, played by Liz Gerecitano, is back to support Anthony as his dearest friend. "Aunt Toniann" is played to perfection by Debra Toscano. She really is the quintessential New Yorker. New characters to the cast include Ondine Ozzupacci played by Beth Dzuricky. Dzuricky's strikes a perfect balance of over-the-top and understated in creating her somewhat ditzy, meddling but well-meaning character of Ondine. Mustafa Gatollari portrays the character responsible for so much tension, Dominick Vitale. Brian Patrick Murphy brings to life "Angela's son" Peter Pinnunziato. "My Big Gay Italian Funeral" also boasts one of the most handsome and well developed bartenders ever to set foot on the St. Luke's stage played by Brandon Goins.
To be honest, I love both of these productions. I love the zany, campy ride that is "My Big Gay Italian Wedding". I also thoroughly enjoy the fun yet poignant story told in "My Big Gay Italian Funeral". The bottomline is, if you are an aficionado of good comedy, you will cherish both productions.
"My Big Gay Italian Wedding" and "My Big Gay Italian Funeral" are both written by Anthony Wilkinson and directed by Sonia Blangiardo. Wedding runs Saturdays at 8 pm and Funeral is Sundays at 7 at the St. Lukes Theater in the heart of NYC's theater district. Tickets are available at telecharge.
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