HOMECOMING '79, Metropolitan Productions, at Saint Joseph Elementary School. The phenomenal success of Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding has of course inspired a host of imitators, from the parodic Flanagan's Wake to the pathetic Patsy's Bridal Shower, all hoping to make their mark in the interactive-theater biz.
Enter Homecoming '79. Written and codirected by Tony 'n' Tina veterans Nick Docimo, Crafty James, and Scott Anderson, this show turns on an intriguing premise: the reunion of the Elm Dale class of '59 falls on the same day as the school's '79 homecoming, and the two events have somehow been scheduled to take place at the same time in the same gym. As in Tony 'n' Tina's Wedding, we are both observers of and extras in the show. And naturally, comical culture clashes ensue, as when Stu Thompson, an unctuous salesman from the class of '59, reels around the room hitting on every piece of jailbait he sees.
But Docimo's script feels thin. He's created an interesting array of characters, and James and Anderson have filled the show with lively, spontaneous, likable actors--but Docimo doesn't always know what to do with them. And the show doesn't capitalize nearly enough on the camp appeal of decadent late-70s culture. Where are the drugs? The punky kids? The awful hair? Still, Docimo and company do create a very pleasant party atmosphere, thanks in part to their eager, gregarious cast and to Frankie Danchetti's authentic kinda cool, kinda cheesy homecoming band, Bad Annie.