The space at Piper’s Alley was built from Brick One as an environment for the show. Rather than being performed at an existing theater or restaurant, the space was built as three integrated spaces: the bar (Vinnie Black’s Celebrity Lounge), the Chapel of Love, and the reception hall (Vinnie Black’s Coliseum). So attending the show was precisely like attending an actual wedding. It’s an advantage the Chicago production has always had over almost every other production of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.
Another advantage was that when you keep a show running for years on end, you have an opportunity to structure a level of detail that you would never have time to figure out and implement in a normal run.
The reason I’m discussing logistics right now is that my emotions are too complex to set into print right now. I could say wonderful things about what being in the show offered to me as a performer – literally thousands of moments of creativity, joy, and community. I could say other wonderful things about some of the friends I’ve made along the way and some of the gifted performers I’ve had a chance to work with. I could also say some awful things about some awful people, and I could say other awful things about artistic abominations that I could do nothing to ameliorate. And of course, it would probably be imprudent and unwise of me to go off on specific individuals in such a public manner.
So if that sort of thing interests you, it would probably be better for both of us if you got together with me one-on-one. I promise to talk your ear off with tales careening from the joyful to the horrible, including many moments in which the two extremes had no alternative but to coexist.
Suffice it to say that I was part of this unique show/society/menagerie for over 5 years and over 1,300 performances, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Having said that, let me also add that I left when it was time for me to leave. While there are things about being in the show that I miss, I’m glad I left when I did. I’ve seen people overstay their time in TnT, and such people often become a misery to themselves and everyone around them. I realized early on that I didn’t want to be one of those people. I’m also glad I left before the run became what it is now – two or three shows a week in front of tiny audiences.
I will close with this photo from a happy time. That’s CC as Grandma Nunzio and yours truly as Father Mark.