I was expecting less from “My Big Gay Italian Wedding” with that knock-off title and obvious cashing in on lead actor Reichen Lehmkuhl fifteen minutes of fame as he is better known as an “Amazing Race” winner and former boyfriend of Lance Bass.
But you know, if Lehmkuhl’s name will get the people to the theatre, then that’s great because “My Big Gay Italian Wedding,” stereotypes and all, is one fricking fun night at the theatre. I laughed for days after remembering some of my favorite moments – and there were quite a few.
Lehmkuhl may get you to the theatre and his sexy body might hold your attention for awhile, but he really isn’t the talent in this show. He’s actually the least convincing actor on the stage. But there’s plenty of other performers that make this a must see.
Writer/actor Anthony J. Wilkinson must have been inspired by situations in his own life as his gay Italian New York character is done to a T – accent and all. He is aptly supported by his “family” Randi Kaplan and Joe Scanio as his parents and Tricia Burns as his sister. Kaplan’s over-the-top theatrics help propel the show to where it is. She seems so unreal and cartoon-like, yet I’ve meet many Italian mother who would react the same way if her only son wanted to marry another man. And Scanio’s quieter, less effected father is also believable. If this were my family and you’d ask Scanio why he doesn’t say much, he’d say he can never get a word in.
The rest of the cast also fares well, in particular Erik Ransom with his great timing, comical gestures and wonderful facial expression. But the real scene stealer here is Brett Douglas as the wedding planner. Yes, he reminds one of Martin Short in one of those “Father of the Bride” movies. But he puts his stamp on every scene he’s in and rattles the house with laugher with perfect delivery of the great lines he’s been given.
The show also has a fun small bit of audience participation which would have been better if the house lights came up. And the cast also does a few fun dance numbers that might make more than a few people drool over Bryan Anthony.
Hollywood take notice: this should be a movie!
“My Big Gay Italian Wedding” plays at New York’s St. Luke’s Theatre at 308 West 46th Street. To get tickets and learn more about the show, go to www.biggayitalianwedding.com.