Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company’s current musical comedy coincides with a crucial time in the state’s political history
By DORIS RUBENSTEIN
When was the last time you left the theater humming a song after seeing a show for the first time?
Guests will have a good choice of songs to hum, and an even larger menu of food for thought, after seeing a production of Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company’s My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding on stage in the auditorium at St. Paul’s Hillcrest Library through March 11.
My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding tells the story of the journey of a secular Jewish woman named Claire (played very believably by Laura B. Adams). Claire is transformed from being a confused and unhappy Nebraskan psychologist and traditional wife-mom to a happy and fulfilled life as a Canadian psychologist and lesbian wife-mom with a stronger Jewish identity.
This is just what an audience needs to better understand the personal, political and historical basis for supporting gay marriage.
That such a sensitive subject is presented in the form of a musical comedy (directed with great energy by Michael Kissin) is an equal testament to the creativity and commitment of the husband-wife team who wrote and developed the show. My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding has already been honored with numerous awards from the New York Musical Theater Festival and the Canadian Comedy Awards. This alone should be enough to convince the skeptic to buy a ticket.
- Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company’s production of My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding features (l to r): Tinia Moulder, Laura B. Adams, David Coral, Matt Rein, Bryan Porter, Jane Froiland and Bonni Allen. (Photo: Sarah Whiting)
Many of the cast members, like Matt Rein (David) and David Coral (in numerous supporting roles) are familiar faces at MJTC. Actors new to the company added even more life to the production and I look forward to following their careers further in the Twin Cities: Bonni Allen’s tremendous comedic talent was shining bright in the show-stopping number “Double Date”; and Hamline University freshman Bryan Porter was a hit both as Young David and with his outstanding dance performance in the ensemble.
Congratulations to Andrew Rasmussen for creating choreography that jumps with life within the confines of the Hillcrest’s tiny stage. Costume designer Lisa Conley and properties designer Wendy Freshmen both did excellent work in using their crafts to move the story along over the course of more than a decade, using subtle clothing and properties cues to let the audience know where the story’s action stood in time.
For all the fun and dancing and singing, I would not recommend this play for the under-Bar Mitzvah-aged audience. This play deals with very mature themes and often uses very mature language — albeit presented in a humorous manner — which may be offensive to the squeamish.
Exploring the lesbian experience is not something that is often discussed, even in gay-straight friendships. The character of David — both as narrator and part of the story — is an example of what the playwrights hope the audience will be or will become: accepting and celebrating two people, regardless of gender, who love and are committed to each other. Not everyone is ready for that in our society.
MJTC Artistic Director Barbara Brooks had no idea that an amendment to permanently ban gay marriage in Minnesota would be on the ballot this fall when she chose the play by David Hein and Irene Carl Sankoff for the 2011-2012 season.
“I first saw the script about two years ago,” Brooks said. “The timing and finances just worked out so that we could produce it this year; it’s a coincidence that we’re producing it at this time in Minnesota’s political history. In truth, it’s perfect for our mission to illuminate commonalities and understanding between the Jewish community and people of other faiths and cultures.”
MJTC is offering several opportunities for audience members to explore the play’s themes. There will be discussions following the performances on March 4 and 11; for information, contact MJTC at 651-647-4315.
The opening night performance was packed. If this is any indication of future sales, I suggest that you buy your tickets now.
Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company (MJTC) presents My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding by Daivd Hein and Irene Carl Sankoff. Remaining performances will take place 8 p.m. Saturdays, March 3 and 10; and 1 and 7 p.m. Sundays, March 4 and 11 at Hillcrest Center Theater, 1978 Ford Pkwy., St. Paul.
For tickets and information, call 651-647-4315 or visit: www.mnjewishtheatre.org.