By Colin Douglas
Ever go to a wedding and ensuing reception and wish for something a little more, well, exciting to happen? Well, wish no more. My Bag Fat Italian Wedding Murder is an immersive, largely improvised production, where the audience members are the wedding guests, all friends and relatives of the newlyweds. Co-created by Broadway actor Jimmy Ferraro and David Craven, the production has transferred to Chicago after a long run in Florida. As advertised, not just marriage, but a meal, mirth, and murder ensue.
After the shocking murder is revealed—Frankie the bridegroom, in the hall, strangled and chalk outlined—each table of guests chooses a head detective and devises a name for their sleuthing agency. A sealed envelope is then opened at each table containing a message that says each table will be competing in uncovering the murderer from among the cast members. Prizes will be awarded to the detectives who crack the case.
So, Clue with Ragu.
Each cast member, dressed to the nines, tells his or her own story of their complicated relationship to the bride, the bridegroom and each other. As the show progresses, we gradually discover all kinds of nasty secrets behind each of the wedding party and their guests, as the number of victims begin to pile up.
The audience is advised to come hungry, and will assuredly not leave hungry. Amidst the comical dialogue, singing, dancing and mayhem, the meal begins with a Margherita pizza, followed by a large Caesar salad, a huge bowl of penne rosa and a sweet pretzel-like dessert. (Water is free; other beverages are available for a price.)
The talented, hard-working cast includes Abby DeRosa as the innocent (?) bride Angel; Arlene Arnone as Angel’s dear grandmother Nonny; Laura Blackwell as Carmella, the bride’s doting, mother; Audrey Napoli as Roxy, the groom’s former girlfriend; Genese Dadzie as Tina, the maid of honor; and Amelia Buell as Sophie, a friend. The gentlemen include John Blackwell as Luciano, Angel’s father; Dave Perez as Johnny, the best man; Andy Phinney as an affable Father James; Matthew Storino as Bruno, the fierce bodyguard; and George McDonald as Giorgio, the congenial host.
Sometimes, depending upon where one is seated, it becomes difficult to see over the actors and waitstaff. And, once in a while, so much is going on that it’s difficult to hear specific lines or know where to focus your attention. But this isn’t Shakespeare and the production has plenty of throwaway moments. All that’s important is that you catch the bouquet, work off some calories doing the Chicken Dance, and, between all the murder-solving, have a great time!
My Big Fat Italian Wedding Murder runs through May 15th at The Reveler, 3403 N. Damen Ave. For tickets or more information, please visit www.buytix.net or call (773) 296-6400.