Arts and Culture

It’s no wonder the wedding has been a staple of stage comedy since Shakespeare’s time. A wedding has all the elements of a stage production: a supporting cast and two romantic leads, an audience, costumes and even a script. The effort of producing a real spectacle can bring even the most experienced stage manager–or wedding planner–to his knees. 

Pandora Productions will close their season this week with Anthony Wilkinson’s musical comedy “My Big Gay Italian Wedding,” the bawdy story of naïve Anthony, whose outrageous family attempts to throw a traditional Italian Catholic wedding for their boy and his nervous groom, Andrew.

In the grand tradition of wedding comedies, wacky antics ensue.

“Anthony is a young, innocent man who’s very loving and almost naïve to the world around him and the troubles the gay marriage, or two men who want to get married, might face,” says director Lucas Adams. “He doesn’t understand all the folderol and the problems that surround this idea.”

Problems like how the couple will convince a Catholic priest to perform the ceremony to keep Anthony’s overbearing mother happy, Andrew’s disapproving mother and a crazy wedding planner (of course). Just for good measure, Andrew’s jealous ex-boyfriend shows up. 

“It’s got a very classic, farcical feel,” says Adams. “It really is a very classic Shakespeare-style, Restoration comedy show in its structure.”

“My Big Gay Italian Wedding” opens Thursday in Actors Theatre of Louisville’s Victor Jory Theatre and runs through June 24. When Pandora opens its next season in the fall, the company’s productions will all be staged at the Henry Clay building.

This show follows Pandora’s last gay-themed musical, “Bare,” a tragedy about gay teens in a Catholic boarding school that ends with a drug overdose death. In contrast, “My Big Gay Italian Wedding” is a traditional screwball comedy about the stress of planning a wedding. Although gay marriage is the subject of heated political debate, Adams says the show not an overt political statement.

“It’s a hot topic right now, of course,” says Adams. “If people want to leave going you know what, this makes me want to speak out for gay marriage, or speak out for the rights of all citizens to do what they choose, great, and I think that’s wonderful and that’s the power of theater.”

Rather, Adams says the play explores how both traditional and changing views of weddings and marriage can reconcile at the moment of public commitment.

“It ends up saying it doesn’t matter what sex you are, it doesn’t matter what gender you are, if you’re loving and you’re committed to each other, then marriage will work,” says Adams.