Real Housewives of New Jersey Raise Money For Marriage Equality and Chat With PASSPORT

Last night, “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” minus Danielle Staub, made their off-Broadway debut in “My Big Gay Italian Wedding.” The ladies, including Caroline’s daughter and Jacqueline’s daughter, performed to a packed theatre to raise money for Marriage Equality New York. The crowd ate up every second of their time on stage, and their performances even had the crowd murmuring, “Wow, they are actually really good!” The show with the RHONJ is sold out for this engagement, but tickets are on sale for an encore performance from Oct. 20-23.

Big laughs came when the ladies poked fun at themselves and in Theresa’s short time on stage as the minister where she called one of the girl’s in the crowd a prostitution whore—the crowd went wild.

The breakout star of the evening was the “you mess with my family” Caroline Manzo who played an overly-emotional, Italian mother—maybe the role wasn’t quite a stretch for Manzo, who grew up in an extremely Italian household where “I’m about to have a heart attack…get me a chair” drama isn’t all that uncommon. “You were the breakout star tonight,” I told Manzo. “OMG, thank you. I have no experience!” We’ll ignore the opening-night jitters, but all-in-all it was a wedding we’d go to again.

We wanted to catch up with some of the ladies and find out why they decided to leave their pallazi and hit the stage to raise money for gay and lesbian rights.

Find out what they had to say after the jump.

The issue of marriage-equality hits home for Caroline Manzo who told PASSPORT, “My brother is gay. He’s two years younger than me, and my dad and mom are now in their seventies, and when he came out they were in their early 50s. My dad is the Italian guy you’re afraid of, and they were accepting and said it was “OK” and “we just want you to be happy.” For us it was a tremendous learning experience. It was great because my children learned and we grew as a family.

Dina Manzo, who initially spearheaded this charity performance tells us why this issue, among many of her other charities, was of particular importance. “I always had my gay best friends, or as I like to call them my boyfriends, as well as gay family members. I think its ridiculous that in this day in age, we’re not all allowed to marry the one we love. If I can use my voice, and people listen, to raise awareness and make people realize that if our Italian family that is so old school and traditional can embrace it, they can too.

Jacqueline Laurita performed alongside her daughter Ashley and to many people’s surprise, she was quite good playing the overly sexual and hysterical Aunt Toniann Naso. Laurita’s hybrid accent caused laughs, and Ashley quipped, “She wouldn’t stop doing it! We’d be in the kitchen, and she just wouldn’t stop!” For Laurita, too, the night was special and important to her. “I really wanted to get the message out there for marriage equality. We have family members and friends I grew up with that are gay. I’ve seen the trouble that they go though. For me, you can’t control who your heart brings you to. If people want to be together, they should be together. I never understood what the big deal was. I’m very happy to be bringing awareness.

All this wedding talk had us curious. We wanted to find out where the Real Housewives went on their honeymoons? Or where they think an ideal gay honeymoon is?

Caroline: “Albert and I want to San Francisco. I LOVE SAN FRANCISCO! I love it! What a fun time! The dress I wore in the wedding, I wore that dress in San Francisco. Where should the guys in the play go on their gay honeymoon? San Francisco, Hawaii… I would go wherever it makes you happy whether it’s in a log cabin or in New York City. Just enjoy your time together.

Dina: “We wanted to go to Italy, but we ended up in Bermuda.

What about a gay honeymoon? I went with my boyfriends [her gays] to Maine, and everyone owns a business up there, it was soo amazing!

Jacqueline: “Well if you can call it a honeymoon, we went to Aspen.”

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