HAWTHORNE, NJ – On Thursday evening, May 27, Macaluso’s in Hawthorne became the setting for the Hawthorne Pride Alliance presentation of “My Big Gay Italian Wedding,” a play written by Anthony J. Wilkinson. Ticket sales went to the HPA Scholarship Fund, which will be used to benefit two students at Hawthorne High School as they pursue graduate studies.
HPA president Mike Stracco led the play, which he said faced many challenges during rehearsal during the pandemic, but they overcame them. Stracco, who had performed in the play previously after seeing it for the first time at St. Luke’s Theater in New York a decade ago, said working with Wilkinson and the cast of Hawthorne 2021 was an “honor and a blessing”.
After months of hard work, attracting dozens of talent, time and dedication, the show had to go on and Wilkinson came to witness his show’s performance. Just weeks before, the Hawthorne cast had traveled to see Wilkinson’s production with their own cast, so there was a close working relationship throughout the effort.
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The event took the form of a dinner theater, with guests arriving at 6 p.m. and having the opportunity to have their photos taken in the lobby. They then enjoy a dinner buffet and a cash bar. The governor’s easing of restrictions, along with significant progress in New Jersey’s vaccinations, allowed the event to take place in the banquet hall. The opportunity came back to life in 2019, except for the masking of Macaluso staff and valets.
“I want to officially welcome you to ‘My Big Gay Italian Wedding’, the main fundraiser for the Hawthorne Pride Alliance,” said Mayor Goldberg. “A year ago Mike Stracco contacted me to launch the Hawthorne Pride Alliance … Over the past year the Alliance has done what it planned to do, educate, motivate, celebrate city’s LGBTQAI community.
The event was a hybrid of a gala and wedding reception to celebrate the fictional couple Anthony Pinnunnizato (Mike Stracco) and Andrew Polinski (Steven Giuffrida) in the 2010s before same-sex marriage was legalized nationally. New Yorkers Pinnunnizato and Polinski want to get married, but the traditional family of the former, exceptionally Italian, demands that this can only take place with the presence of Polinski’s homophobic mother and officiated by the family’s Catholic priest – who cannot perform same-sex marriage. even if he wanted to. Comic chaos ensues.
The performance elicited laughter and applause from the audience as the story unfolded. After the performance was over, Stracco took the opportunity to thank everyone involved in the production, especially Wilkinson, the mayor and council, Macaluso’s and his staff, the performers and stage crew, and the Pride Alliance.
“I am very, very happy with the result. The actors worked very hard,” said Stracco. “I think everyone felt like they were at a wedding last night.”
He also announced that an effort is underway to bring community theater to Hawthorne.
“One of the goals of this evening was to give the idea of creating a community theater that Hawthorne really needs,” said Stracco. “We did that. We have a founding cast, if you will. We proved last night what a community theater can do: it brought a lot of people together and that’s what the theater should do. A city, and enjoy each other’s company. If we can get the theater going, then we can add one more element to the Hawthorne community. I think we’re on the right track because we’re planning the production of the next year. The end goal in a few years is to make it self-sufficient, but community theater production like last night would be fundraising, so to speak, for the Alliance. They would work in symbiosis until the two organizations can maintain their own balance. “
Other upcoming events are planned by the HPA for June. On June 5, Stracco said the borough would raise the rainbow flag at 11:45 a.m. on the new pole installed at the Hawthorne Ambulance Building, near the town’s community garden and 9/11 memorial. “Thanks to Mayor Goldberg and the council, the pride flag will fly for the first time in history on the new pole,” said Stracco. This would be followed by a prayer vigil at 7:30 p.m. and a second flag raising at the Saint-Clément Episcopal Church on Avenue Lafayette.
On June 25, the Alliance will host its first “Pride Ball” outside of Macaluso with a special guest featuring Raphael Miranda of NBC, an Emmy Award-winning meteorologist who is also a member of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. A resident of New Jersey, Miranda – more information can be found by inquiring at [email protected]
Mike Stracco – Anthony Pinnunnziato
Steven Giuffrida – Anthony Polinski
Francesca Stokes – Angela Pinnunnziato
Joe Di Bartolo – Joseph Pinnunziato / Father Rosalia
Kylie Sciarra – Maria Pinnunnziato
Willie Wilson – Maurizio LeGrande
Krissy Sciarra – Aunt Toniann
Hope Foley – Lucie
Emily Shovlin – Connie
Javier Vargas – Mario
Thomas Bushnauskas – Frankie
Rob Laub – Gregorio
Eddie Acosta Pietsch “Anida Tension” – Rodney / Ms. Polinski
Roseann Puzo – Ensemble
Director and choreographer – Mike Stracco
Deputy Director – Erica Prinzo
Stage directors – Elizabeth Barker, Tommy Muszynski, Thomas Bushnauskas
Videography – Michael Sciarra
Dance and photography captain – Javier Vargas
Editor – Alexandria Torres
Special thanks went to Mayor Goldberg and Council members Matthews, Lane, Bennett, Laiosa, Mele, Wojtecki, Sciarra, as well as Ellen Brogno, Nancy Salisbury, Lori Fernandez, Anthony Wilkinson, John Puzo, Reverend Erik Soldwedel , Beatriz Esteban-Messina, Barbara Tanis and Vanessa Diaz.