In 1988, a small interactive stage show, Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding, a send-up of Italian nuptial rituals, opened in New York and grew into an international phenomenon. Building on the theater-as-party notion, two area theater pros, Matt May and Jennifer Sierra-Grobbelaar, have added a couple of topical twists to the formula – same-sex marriage and cross-cultural clashes – resulting in the amusing Diego and Drew Say I Do.
The Southern-fried Boudreaux clan meets the hot-blooded Hispanic Torres family, as their pride and joys – Drew and Diego – exercise their Supreme Court-given right to become husband and husband. So their friends and well-wishers gather nightly – through Feb. 16 – at a Fort Lauderdale catering hall (a/k/a The Broward Center’s Abdo New River Room) to witness their self-crafted vows, chow down on a Deep South-meets-salsa buffet and boogie the night away.
OK, so Eugene O’Neill it ain’t, but if you are willing to jump in with both feet, invent your own persona and improvise along with the mostly agile 15-member cast, you can have a pleasant enough time, as weddings go.
Diego and Drew does not have the bite of Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding, which devolved on cue into chaos. Both families here eagerly endorse the bliss that these two well-scrubbed, tuxedoed gay boys have found with each other.
Well, there is Big Daddy Boudreaux (Mark Krocyznski), he of the Colonel Sanders white suit and Donald Trump button, who finds the union unnatural, but his objection soon fades away. And feel free to start guessing which one of the family members in attendance is a closeted homosexual who will be outed during the evening.
May and Sierra-Grobbelaar have drawn some fun cartoonish characters. Among the standouts are Drew’s randy mom (Sabrina Lynn Gore), Diego’s dad (Cesar Arguelles) whose toast is a string of patriotic sound bites and tipsy Shelby Roberts (Christina Grooms) who had a romantic fling – briefly – with Drew in high school. Emcee Vance Treble (Jordan Armstrong) keeps the festivities lively by singing a string of wedding reception clichés, aided by female impersonator Raven Evermore (R. Kent Wilson), without whom no wedding would be complete.
At the center of the show, of course, is the title duo – Diego (Benny Antipuna) and Drew (Eric O’Keefe) – starry-eyed in love to the point of being bland. They are intentionally the eye of the hurricane, surrounded by exaggerated crazies, but as a result they seem like underwritten ciphers.
Still, they sing well, particularly Antipuna, who accompanies himself on ukulele to “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” late in the two-hour, intermissionless show.
As with Tony ‘n’ Tina’s event, Diego and Drew feed their guests, from a buffet of shrimp and grits, arroz con pollo, cornbread and succotash, followed by served squares of wedding sheet cake. The ethnic culinary contrasts are a hoot, but the meal leaves little doubt why dinner theater had its demise.
Originally directed by John Manzelli for its debut production four years ago, the environmental staging sends the cast all throughout the Abdo playing space. And unlike most stage shows, taking photos of the action is encouraged.
DIEGO AND DREW SAY I DO, Broward Center Abdo New River Room, 201 SW 5th Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Through Sun., Feb. 16. $65. 954-462-0222.