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My Big Gay Italian Wedding

Reichen Lehmkuhl and Anthony Wilkinson star in a new production of this mildly diverting if cartoonish comedy.

Reichen Lehmkuhl, Fabio Taliercio, and Anthony Wilkinson
in My Big Gay Italian Wedding
(© Carol Rosegg)
Stereotypes abound in Anthony J. Wilkinson's My Big Gay Italian Wedding, playing at St. Luke's Theatre in a slightly revamped production from its 2003 premiere. It's a cartoonish work that proves to be only mildly diverting. Working with a set of scenarios familiar from sitcoms across the decades, the play relates the trials and tribulations of Anthony (Wilkinson, who channels Fran Drescher and her screechy nasal New Yawk accent) and Andrew (Reichen Lehmkuhl in a sweet, but wooden, turn) as they prep for the titular rite.

The first hurdle that the couple faces is the demand made by Angela (a shrill Randi Kaplan), Anthony's perpetually hyperventilating and hyperbolic mother: Father Rosalia (Chad Kessler) must perform the ceremony -- and Andrew's mother, to whom he doesn't speak, must attend the event.

When it proves impossible to meet the first demand, Anthony concocts a lie about the priest's health and Angela agrees to allow someone else to officiate. And when Andrew's mother won't show, he, with Lucia (Liz Gerecitano), one of their lesbian friends, decides that Rodney, a fey Latino friend (Erik Ransom), can stand in -- in drag. As if these two ruses weren't enough to ensure pandemonium on the day of the wedding, Gregorio (the dashing and posturing Fabio Taliercio), an old flame of Andrew's who has a secret about his ex, insinuates himself into the wedding party. Still, a happy ending is sure to follow.

Wilkinson's hackneyed plotting is matched by the clichéd characterizations, from the bitterly squabbling semi-butch lesbians to lisping queens to Anthony's big-haired female relatives. The dialogue is equally predictable, filled with Italian invectives and some ethnic slurs that would make Archie Bunker proud. And director Teresa A. Cicala's lackadaisical production does the play no favors. (One aspect of the production does truly gleam: Philip Heckman's costumes for the wedding itself are a witty joy.)

Some of the performances, too, have a certain sparkle, particularly Tricia Burns as Anthony's sister Maria, who has dreams of Broadway, and Joe Scanio as Joseph, his horse-betting dad who has a heart of gold. Brett Douglas' characterization of the mincing wedding planner Maurizio Le Grande borrows liberally from B.D. Wong's work in Father of the Bride, but it has a Teutonic flair that impresses.