Despite its provocative title, this musical reveals itself less as a tangle of beliefs and more of a full-throated celebration of marriage equality.
Talk about zeitgeist. When Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company decided to produce “My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding,” the early machinations were just starting over Minnesota’s election-year showdown over same-sex marriage. From the moment a friendly narrator/lead character reminds us that Canada — where this play takes place — has legalized gay nuptials, “Wedding” marches forth in gleeful political service to the cause.
MJTC opened the show Saturday night in St. Paul, and a full house seemed eager to join in the love fest. “Wedding,” written by David Hein and Irene Carl Sankoff, encourages the comity with a sweep of pageantry. The title connotes twists and tangles and perhaps vexing moments for the young man telling his story — the kind of dramatic tension that forces deeper examination and texture. But this frothy and slim musical doesn’t so much skim over trouble; it avoids it all together. Everything’s great, everyone’s happy.
Musicals are not necessarily served best by lengthy character development and shaggy-dog exposition. “Wedding” rarely bogs down, thanks to director Michael Kissin. His good cast keeps the pomp light, and Kissin largely cuts the treacle with a brisk pace.
This is Hein’s story. Portrayed amiably by Matt Rein (who also plays guitar as he narrates), Hein relates how his parents divorced when he was 13 and his mother moved from Nebraska to Ottawa. Claire (Laura B. Adams) quickly finds lodging with a mopey cat lover (a very funny Bonni Allen) and then meets Jane (Tinia Moulder). Before you can say Alice B. Toklas, Jane and Claire are kissing and declaring their deep affection for one another. Yada, yada, yada, they get married.
It really is that slick. Claire makes a feint at “rediscovering her Jewishness” and Jane kicks in a clinical explanation of Wicca. But these are duty-bound justifications for the title.
Adams, who can be a funny and electric actor, slips easily into Claire’s rather mundane character. Jane is even more bland, through no fault of Moulder’s. Hein and Sankoff flit from song and dance at a Hooters, to a spirited pro-gay marriage rally at the provincial capital. Even Claire’s ex-husband, Garth (David Coral), shambles through a song about “hot, lesbian action.”
Kissin, with an assist from choreographer Andrew Rasmussen, smartly makes the most of a cramped playing space — which must be shared by seven actors and two musicians (including music director Kevin Dutcher). Jennifer DeGolier’s lighting design provides the only scenic interest.
“Wedding” raises awareness of the issue, but is unlikely to change anyone’s mind in the political debate.