and Gina's Wedding
a kate west review
by Marianne Basford & Ann Lippert; directed by Ann Lippert & David Pavao
El Cid, 4212 Sunset Blvd. L.A. 90029; http://www.elcidla.com/index.htm
http://www.joniandginaswedding.com/; (323) 769-KISS (5477)
tix* $30 (includes
dinner, champagne & cake)
running through December 2005 and may be extended
the spirit of the semi-pretend-reality live show "Tony and Tina's Wedding,"
"Joni and Gina's Wedding" is a lesbian version of its Italian-style
predecessor. Patrons are the wedding guests who mingle with Hollywood actors posing
as members of an eclectic wedding party.
are escorted onto the cozy patio at El Cid, a trendy Spanish restaurant in trendy
Silver Lake. There you can drink to your heart's content at the full bar while
you wait for the festivities to begin. Some cast members may venture out to greet
you, including the Caterer Funqueesha (Brandi Hawkins) with a few appetizers for
you, and MadDog (Jane Wolfe). By the time you've had a few cocktails in you, you're
introduced to the madcap members of the wedding party, by Rychard, honorary male
maid of honor (Alex Garner) and you're escorted into the banquet room for the
Pat Miass (S. Rachel Lovey) performs the "almost holy matrimony" for
Joni and Gina (Lowe Taylor and Jessica Hopper). Interspersed throughout are wholly
inappropriate comments by the pretend family members, which of course contribute
to the hilarity of the proceedings. After the atypical ceremony, you'll be escorted
out onto the patio for more drinking and then the reception begins, along with
the real fun. Dinner includes chicken, rice, salad and a champagne toast. And
what a lot of toasts there are. The Best Woman, Maureen (Allie Rivenbark), bitterly
remarks on her lost love, Gina, trying to goad Jodi into a catfight. Both sets
of parents and siblings make speeches, the stereotypes continue and the sparks
Cronander, in this performance, is General Armstrong, Gina's waspish father and
plays the stodgy, horrified military man rather well. Gina's roguish brother Joe
(Chris Burton) makes some off-hand boorish remarks and Charisse Savarin, Gina's
mother Margaret, plays an alcoholic somnambulist with no idea where she is. Feuding
Jewish ex-spouses, Larry (Tom F. Evans) and Ida (Rebecca Michaels) embarrass their
daughter Joni by squabbling endlessly. Joni's sister perpetuates the Jewish stereotype
as Rivkah (Kim Anton), an orthodox, mousy Jewish scholar. Larry's current girlfriend
Wamsetta (Tonya Harris) outplays Alex Garner's Man of Honor Rychard's queeny outrage
with saucy Puerto Rican fire.
expect and applaud these stereotypes which would might not work in a normal play
but fit in great with a wedding. Because the audience feels a part of the show
and have had ample time to drink, we delight in being at a wild party. Making
it all worthwhile are Lowe Taylor and Jessica Hopper as Joni and Gina - both very
charming and interesting. Joni is the more butch of the two, contrasting Gina's
slightly more demure side. We forget they are an unusual couple by mainstream
standards and we root for them wholeheartedly. By the time we are served cake,
danced in a conga line and learned to line dance, we are completely won over.
Word of advice: don't go if you don't want to party. The actors will ask you to
dance and none of them are shy, giving new meaning to the words audience participatory.
From beginning to end, when the girls run off to their honeymoon, you are swept
into this crazy world. Also try sitting near the walls for the best view and make
sure you drink - a lot. It's the best wedding in town if you want to go with the
flow. It's time to let your hair down and catch that bouquet.
proceeds from all shows goes to the Equality Campaign, the group that helps to
fight against constitutional amendments that discriminate against same sex marriage.