Home Features Tony Lauria Talks ‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ at Broward Center for the...

Tony Lauria Talks ‘Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding’ at Broward Center for the Performing Arts

Tony Lauria / Mellisa Miller

Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, New York’s longest running Off-Broadway comedy and the original immersive experience, renews its vow to entertain audiences in the Abdo New River Room through February 25.

Every performance is unique as the audience becomes wedding guests along with the happy couple’s colorful and madcap Italian American families. Guests are invited to eat, drink, dance, converse and get caught up in the festivities.

Reviewing the original New York production, The New York Times reported, “it is a live-in cartoon, a walk-around wedding in which the audience helps the actors do their work… If you want to have a good time, you will.”

Tickets include a full Italian buffet with garlic bread, Caesar salad, chicken marsala, traditional meatless baked ziti, mixed vegetables and, of course, wedding cake.

Tony Lauria Courtesy Broward Center for the Peforming Arts

It was a pleasure to sit down with Tony Lauria, who directs and plays the wedding singer, for this exclusive Hotspots interview:

At what age did you begin performing?

I started performing in 4th grade as my first music teacher recognized that I was picking up the recorder really easily and she called my parents and they decided to buy a piano and give me music lessons and they did and it stuck. 

What was your first professional gig?

I got paid to play when I was 16 at a bar. 

When did you realize you loved directing and how did that happen?

That was when I was about 40 years old and I was asked to step in temporarily to direct Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding and as it turned out he wasn’t able to direct, so they asked me to step in. I loved doing it and it stuck. 

Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is iconic, and even though you have been in many touring productions of it, is there extra pressure directing or being in this show?

Yes, there is even though I have been associated with this show since 1991. Every production is pressure filled as a every show is its own adventure. The pressure is to make sure people laugh and feel included for 2 ½ hours that they are attending the wedding.

Photo by Mellisa Miller

Other than this one, what has been your favorite role or favorite show to direct?

This really is my favorite show to direct. I also directed “Finnegans Farewell” and “Late-Night Catechisms.” Its my favorite as it leaves enough room for the actor to bring in their own personality. My favorite role I played n this show (and I have played many) is the Weddding Singer which I am playing in this production. After almost 30 years of doing it, I still find new things in this role.

What’s your fantasy role or fantasy show to direct?

My dream acting role is Fagin in “Oliver,” as I am too old for the rest of my dream roles. The show I would love to direct is “Above Hells Kitchen.”

In addition to acting and directing you are a musician and have toured the world. Do you have a favorite star you have performed with, and do you have a favorite city or venue that you performed at?

Yes, my favorite place I performed is Lincoln Center at Avery Fisher Hall and it was a place I never dreamed I would play at and I felt very fortunate to play at. There is also a wonderful place in South Carolina, Awendaw Barnjam, that is one of the best music scenes. It’s outside and you bring your own chairs and people come, and it’s amazing.

My favorite star I performed with, although it was brief, was Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. It was amazing for me because I grew up with his music and it was exactly what I imagined it to be. 

You are a member of our community and I hear you have a husband. Tell me about your love story and what makes him perfect for you?

We met in 1998 and he was in town for work, and I was bartending in one of the only straight bars in Chelsea. Since he saw a gay flag, he thought it was a gay restaurant. We started talking and he mentioned he was coming back for Pride Week, and I handed him a card for one of my band gigs. I immediately thought there was something special with him. I also found out he liked the same music that I did, and I had never met another gay man that liked this type of music. I said to myself that I was going to try with him.  Two years later he moved in, and we never looked back. What has kept us together for all these years is putting the other person before ourselves. I couldn’t imagine not having our life together. 

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Kind, thoughtful, and empathetic. 

What do you do for fun?

I walk in the woods with my dogs and husband. Hiking is my joy. 

Photos by Mellisa Miller

What should our readers expect from this touring company of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding”? 

This is a show that is not only for the theater goer but for the non-traditional theater goer, because you don’t have to pay attention to everything and you eat, drink, and dance. They can follow the action when they want. They can get involved or not and either way you will have a fun time. In this particular production, there are a few local actors we have worked with us for years, so I am fortunate to go back and work with actors that I feel are family. It’s going to a wedding without the pressure of your family and your friends which are usually associate with obligatory weddings. It’s the most fun you will ever have at a wedding, including your own.

The LGBTQ+ community is represented in this show, and I know my gay brothers and sister across this country have loved this show and I guarantee the LGBTQ+ community that haven’t yet will enjoy it!

For more information on Tony, please go to Spottiswoode.com.

Performances are Thursday and Friday at 7pm; Saturday at 1 and 7pm; and Sunday at 1 and 6pm.

Buy tickets online at BrowardCenter.org, or Ticketmaster.com; by phone at 954.462.0222; in person at the Broward Center’s AutoNation Box Office.

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