The rumors have been swirling… and they’re true. After fourteen years, and having the distinction of being the second longest running show in Canadian history (number one was The Mousetrap in Toronto), Hoarse Raven Theatre’s Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is set to close at the end of May. Part of the reason for the decision is that Hoarse Raven will be losing their venue, The Other Space (formerly the restaurant at The Queen Elizabeth Theatre) to the Olympics. But, according to co-directors, husband-and-wife team, Tanja Dixon-Warren, and Michael Fera, it is also time.
Closing the show was an extremely difficult decision to make – heart wrenching in fact – as it has been our work for 15 years and has helped launch the theatre career that we have been so lucky to have. It has also been a huge part of our families lives’ – our kids were raised in and around the show and have been influenced by all the wonderful people we have worked with. So – in one moment we are bereft – but the next, extremely excited and chomping at the bit to see what comes next for us. We think it will be an invigorating time …and we so hope that we will go out with a bang – that the last few months of Tony n’ Tina’s will be full of the same enormous celebration and excitement that has been so vital to its longevity… and of which we are so proud.
Tony n’ Tina’s is a success story no matter how you read it. Michael and Tanja had just graduated from the Theatre program at UBC, got married, and were living on a shoestring in a cabin on Gabriola Island. They heard about Tony n’ Tina’s, the success it had already achieved in New York, and the crazy Italian wedding seemed like the perfect vehicle for Michael to direct. The couple cleaned out their savings to purchase the rights to produce the show, then began the task of mounting the sizable production.
Tanja and Michael organized a production co-operative, with everyone involved in the show holding an equal share in the profits. They raised three hundred dollars from a garage sale and negotiated a deal with St Andrews Wesley Church and Chardonnays, a downtown Italian restaurant. When Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding opened in July 1995, the co-operative consisted of cast, crew, Michael (who made all of the artistic choices in the show) and Tanja (who acted in the show, took care of their two young kids, over saw sales, marketing, box office, accounting and any trouble shooting). They planned a three week run, and are now finishing their fourteenth season.
The last fourteen years, more than 1,100 actors have gone through Tony n’ Tina’s, making it a kind of an institution for Vancouver actors. Even I spent five months as props/costumes way back in 2001.
When I asked Tanja to what she attributed the success of the show, her reply was simple:
The success of TNT can be attributed to a a number of things. Luck, timing, the right script at the right time etc etc ….but most of all, I think we would not have been lucky enough to run for 14 years if it had not been for the commitment, support, goodwill of the many many talent artists and crew we have worked with. They have been the core of the show with out a doubt. Also – I think big kudos have to go out to all the thousands of audience members who have come to see the show week after week. With out our audience – we simply would not have survived. Michael and I have much to thank many many people for.
The Vancouver production of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding closes at the end of May with a gala, red carpet performance. If you haven’t yet seen it, you only have seven months left. It runs Thursday through Saturday nights. Tickets and more information are available at www.hoarseraven.com.