By Mary Damiano
It’s like every traditional wedding you’ve ever attended. There are family conflicts. There is inappropriate behavior. There’s dancing (Hokey Pokey, anyone?) There are moments that will make you laugh, and moments that will make you unabashedly teary-eyed.
But unlike most traditional weddings, there’s no bride, but two very adorable grooms.
This is Jon & Juan’s Wedding, a well-produced interactive show where the audience serves as guests at a gay Cuban-Jewish wedding. Jon & Juan’s Wedding offers up the complete realistic wedding experience, much like another famous interactive show, Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding.
Part improv, part scripted, Jon & Juan’s Wedding uses the conventions of a traditional wedding to create an entertaining experience of enhanced realism.
Throughout the evening, cast/bridal party members stop by the tables and chat with audience/guests, greeting them like family and friends or peppering them with questions and opportunities to become more involved with the show. These interactions are refreshingly toned down and unobtrusive.
Occasionally, the lights dim and the spotlight settles on a few cast/bridal party members so the guests/audience can observe and “overhear” their conversations: a mother telling a groom how proud she is of her son and wondering if she’ll get grandchildren; another mother of the groom expressing her outrage that her ex-husband brought his sexpot girlfriend to their son’s special day; family members trying to quell the dismay of a father who is against the wedding. Toss in Juan’s ex- boyfriend who crashes the wedding and a running thread that builds to a dramatic climax, and Jon & Juan’s Wedding becomes a satisfying piece of theatre as well as one helluva good party.
One misstep of the evening occurs when the drag queen best man’s attempt to lead the audience/guests in Barbra Streisand’s “On a Clear Day You Can See Forever.” Even though there were printouts of the lyrics on each table, no one really knew the melody, leading to a haphazard, off-key sing-along.
The reception portion of the show includes an abundant, delicious buffet of salad, noodle kugel, ropa vieja, plantains, and black beans and rice. Later there’s wedding cake and champagne to toast the groom and groom. The DJ keeps the crowd dancing with party standards and gay anthems including “YMCA”, “Dancing Queen” and “It’s Raining Men.”
The Abdo New River Room is well-decorated for the occasion, and most couples would love to have such gorgeous lighting at their own receptions.
Jon & Juan’s Wedding is a fun way to spend a few hours, and even the most skeptical might be surprised by their delight. Opening night was sold-out, and the audience/guests seemed to be having a great time, eating, dancing and laughing.
And in its own way, Jon & Juan’s Wedding makes an important statement about love, and the desire for two people to stand up in front of their family and friends and declare their life-long commitment to one another. Jon & Juan’s Wedding is so much like every other wedding, the fact that there are two grooms becomes the least important part of the affair, and the idea of two different families coming together to celebrate love and commitment takes center stage. Jon & Juan’s Wedding underscores that universal commonality, and will leave you wondering why this type of legal wedding is only possible in a handful of states.
Jon & Juan’s Wedding runs through Oct. 23 in the Abdo New River Room at Broward Center, 201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale. For tickets and more information, call 954-462-0222 or visit BrowardCenter.org.