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The Short Version: “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” is an immersive comedy theater experience that’s turned into a worldwide phenomenon. The show involves its audience in a large, staged wedding, complete with real food and drink. The show’s history spans back to its first performance in 1985, and since then, besides performing stellar shows, “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” has connected countless couples. Between cast and audience members, dozens of couples have been set up for lifelong partnerships.
Weddings are known for a few things: free food, open bars, and people you haven’t seen for a while. A wedding is one of the best reasons to dress up, eat, dance, drink, celebrate, and spend time with friends and family. They create a romantic atmosphere that tends to get people in an amorous mood, which often leads to single wedding guests meeting and connecting.
Weddings happen to check a lot of the boxes for a great place to casually meet compatible singles. It’s a rather long event with several parts, including a meal and drinks, followed by dancing. Oftentimes, weddings bring together social circles, so singles can meet friends of friends and get to know acquaintances better.
As it turns out, a wedding doesn’t even have to be real to create this romantic atmosphere. “Tony N’ Tina’s Wedding,” a comedy theater show about a festive wedding that brings together two Italian-American families, proves it. The show was first performed in 1985 and since then has grown into a worldwide traveling phenomenon.
Part of that phenomenon is the number of couples the show has connected. Between audience and cast members, several couples have found each other because of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.” Joe Corcoran, now a producer for the show, is one of those cast members who found their person because of the show.
“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” has connected so many couples Joe has lost count. “There’ve been a countless amount of relationships amongst audience members and each other, cast members and each other,” he said.
“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” started with two characters developed by Nancy Cassaro and Mark Nassar while the two were students at Hofstra University. Nancy and Mark continued to develop their characters and the comedy show, and in 1985, “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” landed its first location in Manhattan.
The show was a swift commercial success and moved off-Broadway. This is when Joe, also a Hofstra alumnus, took over production. It ran for over 20 years to great critical acclaim and fantastic audience reviews.
“Tony n’ Tina” eventually hit the road and turned into a worldwide traveling show. Traveling casts performed in cities across the United States, plus cities in Canada, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Australia.
The show itself looks very similar to a real wedding. They’re so similar that Joe said he knows of audience members who have come to shows thinking they’re attending actual weddings. “People would actually bring friends to the show and tell them it’s a real wedding,” Joe said. “It’s incredible.”
All audience members are treated as guests at the wedding of Tony and Tina. In terms of dress code, attendees are encouraged to dress as if they were attending a friend’s wedding. Before the ceremony begins, guests are assigned to be part of Tina’s family or Tony’s family.
Joe said that a lot of the show is improvisational. Like any actor would, the cast of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” embodies their characters completely. They do this because of the immersive nature of the show. The cast mingles and interacts with audience members, and each show is a little different.
The show begins with the most scripted portion – a priest performing a marriage ceremony. The audience watches as if they were guests and are then ushered into a space where the reception will be held. The reception makes for most of the immersive show.
Audience members enjoy a delicious meal and a selection of drinks, served buffet or family style. This style of dining helps audience members mingle among themselves and with the cast members when the show demands it.
“Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” includes ripping it up on the dance floor, a ceremonious wedding cake cutting, and too many laughs to keep track of.
While the show is hilariously funny and has found worldwide success, Joe thinks there’s one thing that makes it extra special. And that’s the sheer number of couples it’s matched up during its run.
“It feels like you’re at a wedding, so it’s comfortable to meet people and be introduced to people,” Joe said. “There are countless examples of a complete array of audience members marrying other audience members.”
The show creates a warm and familiar environment that one would feel at the wedding of a family member or close friend. It promotes a welcoming attitude among the audience members. By its essence, the show only works as a direct result of participation by the audience.
Joe can attest to the coincidental matchmaking powers of “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” because he himself met his wife as a result of the show. Their love story is adorably similar to other former and present participants in the show.
“You know, I’m working on this show, it’s opening night in New York, and we’re sold out,” Joe said. “A girl I knew brought a bunch of her girlfriends to the show, introduced me to one of the girls, and she turned out to be my wife.”
Joe said that at the 25th Anniversary Show in Boston, two reprising cast mates reconnected and have since gotten married. Two actors hired at the same casting call in Times Square to play a bridesmaid and groomsman went on to date. Soon after that, the couple played Tony and Tina.
Joe’s been a producer for “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” for decades. He said he’s no longer surprised when someone tells him they met their spouse through the show.
“I met this woman through the Berkshire Film Festival, and she told me she met her husband at a show in Germany,” Joe said. “So, yeah– nothing shocks me at this point.”
Joe’s love for and appreciation of the show was palpable throughout the interview. “These days, people are on dating sites, and they don’t know anybody, and sometimes it can be kind of a crapshoot,” Joe said. “The show is now kind of an ‘old fashioned’ way of meeting people.”
Joe said he was excited about upcoming performances beginning in January 2024. “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding” is heading to Albany, New York, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Red Bank, New Jersey, and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for several shows.
While online dating certainly has its perks, and singles can find wonderful success through online dating, it’s always good to diversify experiences while dating. And no experience can help singles get a feel for another person like a Tony n’ Tina-style party.
“The show really creates this environment; it gets people to play along, be comfortable,” Joe said. “There’s so much familiarity between the characters, in the mood of the show, that it just makes it simple for people to meet.”