Even if you have already attended church on Sunday, head over to St. Luke’s Theatre for a convivial and gay Italian funeral. In fact, the title of the show is “My Big Gay Italian Funeral”. Keep in mind that although the word “gay” connotes “male homosexual” the word is also defined as “cheerful” and “hilarious”. In this case, this off-Broadway hit encompasses both definitions.
Anthony Wilkinson is the star as well as the playwright of a stereotyped Italian funeral having already done the same with My Big Gay Italian Wedding. Whereas the wedding focuses on a same sex Italian wedding, this one focuses on the death of the patriarch Joseph Pinnunsiato.
The play opens to this Staten Island located funeral parlor and funeral director, Maurizio Grande (Brett Douglas). Chairs facing the down stage coffin with a place to kneel . This is for the first viewing and various people will be popping in.
It is best that I give a list of characters. Angela Pinnunziato (Donna Castellano) is John’s wife. There are three children, Anthony (Wilkinson), Peter (Brain Patrick Murphy), and Maria (Marissa Perry). Anthony, who is older than Peter, are both gay. Peter will be bringing his lover, Dominick Vitale (Mustafa Gatollari), who was formerly with Anthony. This will be a focus on a ten year upset between the brothers.
Maria is single and seeing Rabbi Howie Horowitz. I know… this is already sparking your laughter. Not going to reveal more than this.
Then there is Aunt Toniann Naso, sister to Joseph, (Debra Toscano) and the one character that helps create the hilarity at the funeral (for us), Ondine Ozzupacci (Beth Dzuricky). She is not related to anyone. She is a member of the Tuesday Ladies Coffee Clutch. Joseph owned a bowling alley and she had been bowling there for 25 years. She will not only seem to grieve the most but make phones calls to whoever is in Angela’s cell phone list. OY! Oh yes, nobody knows who she is.
A second scene will take place at a gay club in Brooklyn, ten years ago. This gives us the opportunity to see bits of a drag show and meet Connie Scuccifuffio (Meagan Robar) and her lover, Lucia Fuccio (Liz Geracitano) who although not present lovers have remained friends of Anthony.
Kudos for Anthony Wilkinson the author and Sonia Blangiardo for directing this talented cast.
Being Italian or knowing enough about Italians will most likely get you guffawing more. Even if you’re not in this category, you “get it”. The gay aspect of the script will sell itself.
Bring tissues for both tears of laughter and the part that will bring other emotions.