San Diego's Ocean Beach

Joey and Maria's Comedy Italian Wedding

Wedding Celebrates 10th

June, 2003 "Downtown News"
by Jim Kelly

Red, white and green ribbons swirled from band members’ costumes on May 31 as guests arrived at the Jack Dodge Theater in San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter to the sounds of Italian swing.

The welcoming singer, Giovanna (Joanne) Dibona could barely contain her enthusiasm (or what she amply displayed in her bodice) and why should she?

She was the opening act of the 10th anniversary celebration of "Joey and Maria’s Comedy Italian Wedding," the longest-running dinner theater in San Diego County.

This part-comedy, part-musical, part-dance-club experience began with the cast greeting ticket-holders like members of the family and everything went rapidly uphill from there.

When all the guests were inside, the wedding ceremony commenced with recalcitrant groom, Joey, played by Rob Marrocco, trying to tie the knot with Maria, played by Amanda Venancio.

Usher, James Muscio, wearing a plastic toupee resembling a small black skunk, brought in the wedding party one by one.

Last to arrive was Joey’s ex-girlfriend, Viola, played by, Andria Elam (Miss San Diego, 2001.) Elam, a musical theater graduate of USD, added tension to the plot.

As the play became more inter-active, the crowd was rapidly convinced they were actual participants in the festivities (they were) and, although the acoustics suffered from overload in the old warehouse, it didn’t matter much because the character of the event was more visceral than Shakespearean.

The entire cast stole the show with madcap energy as they danced, sang, and whipped the party into a frenzy worthy of the Three Stooges on double espressos.

As the actors went from table to table enticing guests from their chairs, Conga lines became more infectious than mad-cow disease and eventually the converted warehouse was a scene of one-two-three kicking as the crowd moved into a large circle, with everyone fulfilling their collective dream of becoming a Rockette.

Helping to celebrate the ten-year milestone was San Diego’s premier Italian band, Roman Holiday, and San Diego’s franchise of Buca di Beppo (fittingly, Joe’s basement), who put out a spread worthy of an Italian princess.

Lasagna, spaghetti, tender chicken in a dream sauce and Tuscan trifle (Tiramisu) offered a tasty interlude between the wedding ceremony and the following excitement. It all made you want to talk with your hands.

After dinner, the partying continued into the evening with more twists and turns on the dance floor than Winona Rider in a department store.

Presenting tribal favorites ranging from the Electric Slide to the Chicken Dance, the troupe led the guests in every group caper known to modern music.

Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett were also honored as their songs were woven into the fabric of the show and the crowd went wild with laughter as male members lip-synced a zany rendition of the play’s ending anthem, "I did It My Way."

The 10th anniversary celebration of Joey and Maria’s Comedy Italian Wedding was presented by Dillstar Productions, a Rancho Cucamonga company offering a variety of interactive shows nationwide.

For information and reservations to future performances call (800) 944-5639.