Monday, August 3, 2009

Superhero wedding

Capes and cake: Tony and Sarah’s big superhero wedding.

When he proposed, Tony Lucchese told Sarah LaFore that she was his kryptonite.

He gave her a green diamond ring. Then he got planning.

On their big day, Batman could rappel from the ceiling. Superman could say his vows to Wonder Woman. The whole wedding party — and guests — could dress up.

After an exploratory climb, the dive from the rafters was nixed — it's no grand entrance if the best man breaks a leg. Guests-to-be said they'd rather hear Tony marry Sarah than Superman marry Wonder Woman.

Then bridesmaids balked at fishnets and leotards.

They told LaFore: "We love you a lot, but we don't know if we love you enough to wear spandex."

Undaunted, Lucchese went back to work.

The script has been polished. The stage built. The costumes fitted.

Eighteen months in the making, today's the day for their superhero wedding.

"We're really hoping a lot of villains show up," LaFore said.

The couple met seven years ago in Tennessee on a production of "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying" at the Oak Ridge Playhouse. He was artistic director, she was in the show.

They moved to Portland in 2006. Both are full-time students at the University of Southern Maine. Lucchese, 31, is entering grad school to be a math teacher. LaFore, 34, is studying to be a marine biologist.

When the superhero idea first came up, they weren't even engaged. And neither is a huge comic-book fan. But Lucchese had a Superman T-shirt he wore a lot. He could work his hair into the perfect Supes' spit-curl.

And they both love a good production.

"It was a joke for a number of years," he said. "At some point we came to the painful realization it wasn't a joke anymore."

Lucchese decided early that great costumes would be key to pulling it off. He tracked down a New Jersey designer who's made costumes for theme parks and the Syfy Channel.

"Everyone involved is doing a few extra crunches and forgoing a few extra desserts during the week to pull off spandex," said best man Eric Kieschnick of Pennsylvania. "It's the opposite of a gut-hiding cummerbund."

Aquaman, Flash and Spider-Man round out the groomsmen. Ten bridesmaids will be Amazon warriors — in comic mythos, Wonder Woman is an Amazon princess — with spears, togas and sandals.

Two weeks ago, LaFore and Lucchese made an emergency trip to Jersey, down and back in one day, to tweak her costume.

"Paramount to having a successful wedding is having the bride feel pretty," he said.

He and volunteer carpenters built a Fortress of Solitude altar in a rented warehouse space in Portland. They'll be married by Kieschnick's father, dressed as Jor-El, Superman's dad. Part of the script borrows from Kryptonian wedding vows. The couple will break character to say, "I do."

"I watch him try to come up with ideas for certain things; I feel like I'm sitting on the sidelines like a groom," LaFore said. "I've loved every minute of it. I love that he's so excited about the planning."

They expect 85 guests and plan three cakes: One with Wonder Woman and Superman on top, one with Marvel figures and a third for DC characters. Instead of flowers, they'll decorate with superhero paraphernalia.

Lucchese said he turned to Casablanca Comics in Portland as a "sort of superhero library," with staff helping them find back issues like Action Comics' "Supergirl's Wedding Day." When he ordered posters from Canada to hang around the warehouse and they got stuck in U.S. Customs, the comic book store donated a bunch.

Lucchese spent the days leading up to Saturday on final touches, arranging enormous set pieces cut and painted to look like crystals, adjusting lights and cuing up sound.

For example, "When I put a little kryptonite shard (in a tube) to bring the fortress to life, I have some ringing crystal sounds," Lucchese said.

Kieschnick, who works in film and television, applauded his friends' "theatrical commitment."

"I certainly was wary of rappelling at first. Once I warmed to the idea, I mourned its loss," he said.

But wait just a minute, Batman.

"He's actually going to be sliding down a pole now, he doesn't really know it yet," Lucchese said. "Spidey is swinging in on a rope."

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