More than any other word in its title, "My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding" is about wedding — and all the love and heart that comes with the ceremony.
Claire (Julie Dingman Evans) and Jane (Erica Schroeder) are the titled Lesbian Jewish Wiccan betrothed in the latest Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival offering, which begins at the Auburn Public Theater tonight. As the more free-spirited, open-minded of the two, it's Jane, a therapist, who sets the union in motion. Claire, meanwhile, is a psychology professor coming off a heterosexual marriage, she has a son, and she's still finding herself.
"Jane sparks something in her she didn't know was there — she's shedding her skins, but she struggles with who she is," Evans said.
Their union takes many comic turns, such as when Claire comes out to her former husband. On the page and even in the title, the musical, which was named "Best New Musical" at the 2010 New York Musical Theater Festival, may seem more silly than anything. The singers of one number utter the word "penis" multiple times over, for instance. But a big heart beats at the center of the story, Evans and Schroeder said.
David Hein and Irene Sankoff, who wrote, produced and starred in "Wedding" in 2009, come to Auburn to portray Claire's son, David, and his love interest, Irene, in the show. One of its more touching moments comes when Claire comes out to her son, struggling to word her revelation, only for him to interrupt to say he knows and understands.
Especially at a time when gay marriage is on the minds of many in the United States, "My Mother's Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding" speaks a valuable theme, Schroeder said.
"It's about acceptance of yourself in all of your forms," she said. "You're free to love anyone — and equal rights for all."
Evans added, "Everyone has a right to love who they want and commit to them."
Given the theme and content, the show is ideal for adults with an open mind, Schroeder said. Though even the less liberal minds who see "Wedding" may find their values shaped by its story.
At an early performance of "Wedding," a 70-year-old Jewish audience member whose daughter was marrying another woman stayed after the show, insisting to speak with Hein. She would tell the playwright that his work changed her mind about the marriage — from that moment, she was OK with it, Schroeder said.
"It's a beautiful piece of heart," Evans said.