Anthony J. Wilkinson is as charming as the character he plays in the Off-Broadway comedy, “My Big Gay Italian Wedding.” Guess he should be as he wrote the play.
“Wedding” had ceased production in New York for awhile and played, with different casts, throughout the country and abroad. Now, by popular demand, it has returned to New York and plays Saturdays (and Sundays in December) at the St. Luke’s Theatre, the same theatre it played at when it last ran in New York.
The return was exciting, says Wilkinson, but without its obstacles. It opened just days after Hurricane Sandy blew into town. “I am amazed at how the cast still showed up to rehearsals,” he says, pointing out he’s from the heavy-hit Staten Island, where his Mother’s bowling alley (Rab’s Country Lanes) practically became a focal point for the Red Cross.
But “Wedding,” Wilkinson and the entire cast has moved forward, filling the house most nights. “We have a great following,” he says, “and a lot of it is word of mouth.”
Surprisingly, most of the audience is not gay. “It’s about 70% women, 25% gay men and women and 5% straight men brought by their straight girlfriends,” he laughs. Of the demographic, the women usually come in groups like bridal parties and an entire staff of a hair salon. “I can see who our audience is when we do the receiving line in the lobby at the end of the show,” Wilkinson says.
Wilkinson says he’s blessed that his cast is great at networking and they too bring in an audience from people they meet in other areas of their lives, including the two women (Kim Sozzi and Judy Torres) who take turns being Aunt Toniann – both of which are popular club singers.
He says that he’s been having a lot of guest stars, including some “Mob Wives” reality stars and hints there are more guests coming before the end of the run. “Stay tuned,” he winks.
The story of “Wedding” isn’t really mirrored after his own life, even though he does have a partner. Wilkinson remembers when he first fell in love years ago he thought he’d never be able to have a wedding like his straight family would have. “In an Italian family, weddings are huge!” So he created a show that would incorporate what he’d like in a wedding and the obstacles he’d have to overcome.
Surprisingly, gay weddings aren’t just a dream in WIlkinson’s head anymore as more states are legalizing same sex unions.
Get more information and tickets at www.biggayitalianwedding.com. Show plays at 8pm on Saturdays (and at 7pm on Sundays in December only) through February at St. Luke’s Theatre, 308 West 46th Street, New York, NY.