The Art of the Business

A blog dedicated to artists who are serious about their business.

This is what good networking gets you November 24, 2008

Filed under: Local Shows,Networking — Rebecca Coleman @ 9:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Halle Berry.

Halle Berry and Eric Pollins at Tony n' Tina's Wedding

There’s a local actor in town called Eric Pollins. Eric’s a regular guy, just trying to make a living, so, in addition to his Film and TV work, he also plays the father of the groom, Nunzio, three nights a week at Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.

Well, Eric booked an actor role on a feature that is currently filming in Vancouver: Frankie and Alice. The IMDB blurb says: “A drama centered on a young woman with multiple personality disorder who struggles to remain her true self and not give in to her racist alter-personality.” Halle Berry plays the title character.

So, when Eric went in to film his scenes with Halle, she introduced herself to him. Later, during a long break between scenes, Eric took the opportunity to tell her how much he was enjoying her work. She asked him about his life outside of the film, and he told her about his ‘other’ job on Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, and invited her out to see the show. And last Saturday night, she did!

Eric says, “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding is interactive theatre—the audience is encouraged to play along as guests at the wedding and interact with the characters. My character, Nunzio, is the proprietor of a gentlemen’s club, ‘The Animal Kingdom,’ so we worked Halle’s character from the movie into Nunzio’s back story in Tony n’ Tina’s. When I greeted her at the church I “recognized” her as Frankie, who used to dance at my club. I told her that customers keep asking for her, and that The Animal Kingdom just hadn’t been the same since she left. On the receiving line, still as Nunzio, I introduced her to my girlfriend Maddy, who was auditioning to become Frankie’s replacement at The Animal Kingdom when she and I met and fell in love. Later, when I danced with Halle at the reception, I told her how she had changed my life by bringing Maddy into it when she left … and of course I tried to woo her back to The Animal Kingdom! Halle played along, telling me that she had moved on and was never coming back … and even throwing rice at the bride and groom!”

”Halle was the most wonderful and gracious guest imaginable. The warmth, humanity, and emotional generosity she shares, both on set and as a “guest” at Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding, are the very same qualities that make her an international star. It was a rare pleasure to host her, and particularly to be the entertainer’s entertainment. I will always treasure the memory.”

A tale of networking gone horribly right.

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Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding set to close November 5, 2008

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.


The original cast of TnT

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

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