“Here Comes the Bride?” Not Quite at Jon & Juan’s Wedding
Straight or gay, any wedding is bound to offer plenty of real-life drama and “Jon & Juan’s Wedding,” a new production opening at the Broward Center this weekend, is no exception.
“It’s a real wedding, but it’s not a real wedding,” explains producer Ellen Wedner, who does double duty as the wedding planner in the interactive show, which supposes how a gay wedding between Jewish and Cuban-American gay men might play out, at least in five states and the District of Columbia.
“We have a full dinner with the show, a toast donated by Asti Spumante, lots of songs and dancing, the hora and the ‘Hokey Pokey’,” explains Wedner. “We hope no one’s real wedding goes like this, but I suppose someone’s has.”
The show, modeled after the popular Tony & Tina’s Wedding, was developed in a series of workshops in 2002, and is a coproduction of the Broward Center and Wedner’s Creative Arts Enterprises, a non-profit organization formed a decade ago to promote gay and lesbian culture. The production kicks off the Center’s inaugural Pride series targeted at the LGBT community.
“In 2002, everybody told us the idea of a gay wedding was wild, but times have really changed,” she says. “It really didn’t seem that far-fetched to me, and certainly weddings haven’t changed much since.”
Wedner, who is straight, Jewish and married to a Catholic, drew on some of her own experiences of clashing culture for inspiration: “There is nobody that has had a relationship in this world—gay or straight—who hasn’t lived through these stories.”
For years, gay theater has focused on coming out stories or the AIDS epidemic, so the opportunity to tell a different story with the resources and production values at the Broward Center is exciting for the arts activist.
As guests at Jon and Juan’s wedding party, audiences will be served a cross-cultural meal including Bubbe’s noodle kugel and salad, black beans and rice, Abuela’s ropa vieja and plantains, and of course, wedding cake, along with plenty of craziness from the outspoken families and friends of the grooms.
Actor Andy Herrman, who portrays the singing “maid” of honor, David Schwartz in a drag alter ego named Veronica, predicts audiences will enjoy the interactive nature of the show, which grew out of improvisational rehearsals.
“We spent three weeks in rehearsal and a lot of the story came out of improv,” Herrman, a New York transplant and veteran of Fort Lauderdale’s Rising Action Theatre, says. “If it’s good, we would go home and write out our scripts. But still, no matter what type of theater it is, things happen and there’s a little leeway to go off book a bit. That’s the fun of live theater.”
He’s not worried about the success of the show, in any case, because he says, “Everybody likes a guy in a dress and wig and lots of jewels. Oh, and the grooms are very handsome, too.”
While marriage equality doesn’t seem likely in Florida anytime soon, Wedner is optimistic.
“I don’t know if plays like ours will ultimately change things,” she concluded. “It will make everybody feel good. We’re all diverse and our points of view are valid…..and sometimes we just need to laugh at ourselves a little.”
Jon & Juan’s Wedding
Abdo New River Room, Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Wednesday, Oct. 12 – Sunday, Oct. 23, 7:30 p.m. and 1 and 6 p.m on Sundays
Tickets $59.50 include wedding dinner and cake
For tickets or more information, go to BrowardCenter.org