Aunt Chooch’s Birthday

The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner "Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding" is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for "Aunt Chooch's Birthday." The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings and mauling mates.

With:
Mildred (Chooch) Fontana.....Dana Lorge Lina Hoffman.....Susan Varon Giovanna Noto.....Kathleen Bergman Christine Costello.....Maria Baratta Celeste Hoffman.....Susan Campanaro Francis Noto.....Vincent Gerrard Marco Noto.....Steven Sanpietro Benny Noto.....Michael Sala Lorraine Hill.....Shira Kirsner Leo Costello.....Benny Geraci Harold Weiner.....Robert R. Oliver Bunny Buffo.....Christine Vanacore Louis Nanni.....John Thomas

The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings and mauling mates.

If you’ve ever been to an Italian wedding, you’ll recognize the hosts and merry-makers. If you haven’t, there is plenty of time to get acquainted when the family photo album is screened. It seems Uncle Luka, shown socializing with Rocky Graziano, ended up in jail, while Uncle Buck is seen buried up to his neck in the sand by his playful nephews on a day at the beach. “That’s the first time we buried him,” a relative wisecracks.

The family matriarch, Aunt Chooch (Dana Lorge), who makes a mean pot of pasta sauce, attempts to pacify the rivalry between daughters Lina (Susan Varon) and Giovanna (Kathleen Bergman). Granddaughter Christine (Maria Baratta) has trouble singing on pitch, and we are spared her rendition of “O Mio Babbino Caro” in favor of a jarring version of “I Will Survive.” Christine’s husband, Leo (Benny Geraci), leers at the ladies, hurls insults at the in-laws, and motivates brawls.

Part scripted and part ad-libbed, the show has family members mixing freely with patrons, offering catty gossip, spicy jokes and hawking bargain flights to Las Vegas. Club owner Bunny Boffo (Christine Vanacore) boasts of a liaison with Elvis, while band leader Louie Nanni (John Thomas) serenades the boisterous clan with “Buona Sera,” “Non Dimenticar” and “O Sole Mio.” Supported by a swinging lounge trio, Nanni invites the guests to sing along with “That’s Amore.”

There’s also baked ziti, participation in a round of bingo and even a conga line. It all adds up to a mindless triumph of tacky revelry. The wild abandon of the evening’s humor is infectious. Writer-director Larry Pellegrini has created his partygoers with a truthfully observant eye, which not only reveals their raucous misbehavior, but suggests that there is a dark side lurking in the family closet. As Giovanna whispered to me on the way out, “You can’t choose your family!”

Aunt Chooch's Birthday

(Comedy; Vegas Room, Edison Hotel; 200 seats; $ 65 top)

Production: A Wendy Cashen presentation of an entertainment in one act, written and directed by Larry Pellegrini.

Crew: Set, Randall Thropp; costumes, Juan De Armas; musical direction, Wayne Barker. Opened, reviewed May 11, 1998. Running time 2 HOURS, 30 MIN.

With: Mildred (Chooch) Fontana.....Dana Lorge Lina Hoffman.....Susan Varon Giovanna Noto.....Kathleen Bergman Christine Costello.....Maria Baratta Celeste Hoffman.....Susan Campanaro Francis Noto.....Vincent Gerrard Marco Noto.....Steven Sanpietro Benny Noto.....Michael Sala Lorraine Hill.....Shira Kirsner Leo Costello.....Benny Geraci Harold Weiner.....Robert R. Oliver Bunny Buffo.....Christine Vanacore Louis Nanni.....John Thomas

More Film

  • CineAsia: India’s PVR Signs Bumper Deal

    CineAsia: India’s PVR Signs Bumper Deal With 4DX

    The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings […]

  • Titanic 20th Anniversary

    'Titanic,' 'The Goonies,' 'Field of Dreams,' 'Memento' Added to National Film Registry

    The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings […]

  • Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills Pool and

    Showbiz Event Planners Compete for the Glam Slam

    The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings […]

  • Weinstein Asian Executive Bey Logan Accused

    Weinstein Asian Executive Bey Logan Accused of Sexual Misconduct

    The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings […]

  • 12 of the Craziest 'Star Wars:

    12 of the Craziest 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' Fan Theories

    The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings […]

  • Laura Dern Red Carpet fashion Moments

    Fashion Flashback: Laura Dern Remembers Her Favorite Frocks

    The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings […]

  • Genndy Tartakovsky Animator

    TV Animators Tooned Up for Big Screen Features

    The creative team who fashioned the Off Broadway longrunner “Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding” is throwing another party. This time the Fontana family has ferried in from Staten Island for “Aunt Chooch’s Birthday.” The tourist trade in search of a diversion from megamusicals can dine, drink and dance amid the melee of warring in-laws, sparring siblings […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content