Tony n' Tina's Wedding

Shakespeare & Company Gala Oct. 9

By: - Sep 25, 2010

Tony & Tina Tony & Tina Tony & Tina Tony & Tina

Coming off the heels of its most successful summer season to date, Shakespeare & Company celebrates its Fall Gala with a very special one-of-a-kind performance of the famed Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding on Saturday, October 9th beginning at 5:00pm. The Fall Gala while honoring Artistic Director Tony Simotes and Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer will also benefit the Company’s thriving Education Program.  The event will include many of the original New York City award-winning cast of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding but also cast members from the show’s 20 year-plus run and S&Co. actors Elizabeth Aspenlieder, Kevin G. Coleman, Sonya Hamlin, Robert L ohbauer, David Joseph , Nicholas J. Puma Jr., Tina Packer , and Tony Simotes, to name a few.
Since opening February 14, 1988 in New York City Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, a unique theatrical experience, has won over the hearts of thousands of people in over 100 cities worldwide, including Japan, Australia, Canada and many European cities. S&Co.’s special Gala production of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is directed by Tony L auria and produced by Karen Cellini and Joe Corcoran and may just be one of the most outrageously fun weddings you have ever attended.
The entire evening is centered on the nuptials of Tony and Tina – a young hot-bloodied and fun-loving Italian couple who, along with their ‘family’, will catch you up in this full-blown, fast-paced wedding celebration complete with bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girls, wedding cake, dancing and more! Our very own Tina Packer and Tony Simotes , although not getting hitched, will be entertaining you in other surprise roles along with several other Company staff and actors.  Audience members will actually participate in playing the roles of Tony and Tina’s family and friends as Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding weaves back and forth between reality and fantasy.  Delicious food (provided by Savory Harvest Catering), dancing, revelry and special surprises await our guests, who shouldn’t be alarmed if a swaggering wedding singer or saucy wedding party relative (or two) greets them over the course of this festive and entertaining evening.                                                                                                                                                     

Auctions (On-line in advance, L ive on the day, and a Silent ‘wedding’ auction are included in the Gala): Auction items range from exclusive get-away weekend spa days at Canyon Ranch and other high-end resorts, trips abroad, art, exquisite food and wine dinners, sporting activities, pampering activities and so much more!  And for the first time the Company will also auction off several ‘one-of-a-kind’ in-house items such as scholarships to S&Co.’s summer youth programs and its world-renowned training programs, as well as the opportunity to underwrite the cost of its annual New England Tour of Shakespeare which reaches over 20,000 students, parents and teachers each year, many from underserved school districts. Advance on-line bidding is available at: beginning Friday, October 1st.
Schedule: The evening begins at Founders’ Theatre, with a festive cocktail reception and silent auction at 5:00 p.m. leading into the main program of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding beginning at 5:45 p.m. which is followed by a reception and wedding dinner under the big-top, heated, tent beginning at 6:45pm.  Guests will enjoy dinner, provided by Savory Harvest Catering, followed by dancing and merriment under the tent. A special live auction will also be part of the festivities.
Gala Tickets: Tickets are priced at $300 for Silver Tickets, $500 for Gold Tickets, and $1,000 for Platinum Tickets.  Tables seating ten guests may also be reserved for $3,000 for Silver Tables or $5,000 for Gold Tables.  All tickets include: Cocktails, Auctions, Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding Performance, Dinner Reception, Dancing, Dessert and FUN!  All proceeds will benefit Shakespeare & Company’s acclaimed Education Program. For further Gala information, call (413) 637-1199 extension 117 or check out the special Gala section on our web site:
Gala Co-Chairs Carole Murko and Dottie Weber host this exciting evening showcasing the Company’s deep wealth of creative talents, and the talents of their very special New York ‘relatives’ from Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, which will be on full display throughout the Gala evening.  “Tony, Tina and the Company have done extraordinary work within the community and the schools both near and far over the past three decades, with their innovative approach to teaching and playing Shakespeare,” says Board Vice-Chair Dottie Weber.  “I am honored and thrilled to be Co-Chair, with Carole Murko, of this season’s Gala and to be a part of and support this incredible community of artists and educators. I look forward to this year’s Gala being a magical and memorable night of revelry, celebration and mirth, the proceeds of which will help support our wonderful and award-winning education programs and to continue to realize the dreams of Shakespeare & Company.”
Gala Committee
Carole Murko, Co-Chair, Dottie Weber, Co-Chair
Elayne Bernstein, Vicki Bonnington, Patrick Brennan, Karen Cellini, Marianne Ellrodt, Roberta Friedman, Phoebe Giddon, Deborah Grausman, Susan Grausman, Jan Healy-Grien, Jane Iredale, Judy Isserlis, Jeff Konowitch and Wendi L aurin, Govane L ohbauer , Tamar March, Kate Millonzi, Carolyn and Eli Newberger, L isa Newman, Barbara Newman, Tori Rhoades, and L auren Wohl.
“As a long-time Founding member of Shakespeare & Company I am profoundly honored and proud to share and celebrate the work of our unprecedented Education Program,” says Artistic Director Tony Simotes .   “I am also very grateful for the wonderful opportunity I have had to be part of this particularly extraordinary season as its second only Artistic Director – and my first full season.  This summer season alone we have already hit unprecedented box office and attendance records, which you will read more about later in the fall, but we did this as a Company, as a team of collaborators and dedicated employees and colleagues to whom I want to give a heartfelt thank you.  I would also like to give a special thank you to the Board of Trustees and Board Chair Richard Mescon; my wing man, friend and Managing Director Nicholas, J. Puma Jr.; and especially Founding Artistic Director Tina Packer for her support, encouragement, irreverence and friendship. Tina’s tireless work and the truly incredible vision and mission she created for the Company over 30 years ago has had an enormous and incalculable positive impact on theatre performance, education and training not only across America , but around the world. It is a testament to Tina’s ‘will’ and the support of the Board of Trustees, the community, both near and far reaching, that what we do here on-stage, in the classrooms, in the court rooms, and on-the-road is important and vital in our all of our lives, at every age and at every level. I have every intention of carrying on Tina’s legacy and to lead the Company forward as it continues to grow, evolve and thrive as it becomes THE center for actor training, performance and education in the Country.”
Shakespeare & Company’s Education Program is one of the most extensive theatre-in-education programs in the Northeast, and has reached over a million students since 1978 with innovative performances, workshops, and residencies. Guided by Founder and Education Director, Kevin G. Coleman and Company education artists and teachers, educators continue to develop and fine-tune their programs to enhance and complement curricular activities in elementary, middle, and high schools across the country.  The Education Program received the prestigious 2006 Coming Up Taller Award presented by First L ady L aura Bush at the White House in January 2007, and in 2005 it also received the Commonwealth Award, the highest award for excellence in the arts, sciences and humanities given by the state of Massachusetts . 
Last year Coleman earned the prestigious 2009 Distinguished Arts Educator Award in the field of theatre, bestowed annually by the Massachusetts Arts Education Collaborative. The Education Program was also the subject of an in-depth, two-year study by Harvard University ’s Project Zero which recommended national replication.  The upcoming Fall Festival of Shakespeare (November 18-21) now celebrating its 22nd year involves over 500 high school students and teachers annually and is the longest running of the Company’s education programs. Other innovative and creative programs offered by the Education Program include Shakespeare & Young Company, Riotous Youth, The New England Tour of Shakespeare, Elementary and Middle School Residencies, Shakespeare in the Courts, and National Institute on Teaching Shakespeare.  The Education Program has been identified by the Arts Education Partnership and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities as a Champion of Change.  Shakespeare & Company arts-in-education programs receive major support from The National Endowment for the Arts, The National Endowment for the Humanities, Bank of America, The Hearst Foundations, Sabic Innovative Plastics, The Sohn Foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, The Massachusetts Cultural Council and its local cultural councils, Country Curtains and The Red L ion Inn, and many other local corporations, private foundations, and individuals. 

Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding:
The idea for Tony n' Tina's Wedding was originally conceived at Hofstra University while Mark Nasser and Nancy Cassaro (the original Tony n' Tina) were undergraduates. Both in the drama department from 1977-1981 they made up these characters and would often improv with each other, acting out the roles of two Italian boyfriend-girlfriends from Queens , just for fun. As their professional relationship continued (after both moving to New York ), after graduating from Hofstra, their characters continued to develop as well. Soon after the idea to present an interactive wedding, where the audience played the guests, was proposed and in 1985, was acted upon. Three performances were planned, actors invited their friends and family, and at this point it became clear to Joe Corcoran that in his words was “an event that would appeal to an audience, well beyond traditional theater goers.” Well, the rest is history. Joe Corcoran mounted another production of the show, this time for several weeks, where it caught the eye of People Magazine, then The New York Times, Time Magazine, followed by hundreds of media outlets throughout the world that had immediately embraced this simple, yet genius, concept to create a familiar environment where audiences could eat, drink and dance...all while interacting with characters that seemed oh so familiar. In February 1988 the first commercial production was capitalized and presented by Joe Corcoran and his L ondon based brother Dan on Waverly Place (in Greenwich Village) with the church ceremony taking place at St. John's Church on Christopher Street . As the audience attended the church service, then walked all together, with the cast, across 7th Ave to Waverly Place the show became a fixture of the Greenwich Village neighborhood, running at that location for the first 11 years. Since opening countless notables have been among the hundreds of actors who are part of the Tony n' Tina “family”.