Beyond the Fringe!
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Beyond the Fringe!

“I’m cool with you being gay, Jewish, and Wiccan, mom, but do you have to wear that wreath?” Photo by Lindsay Anne Black.

It’s been a very exciting week for Toronto Fringe enthusiasts. First, there was the announcement of the festival’s partnership with both Mirvish and the Randolph Centre for the Arts, which means the Fringe Club beer tent will move from the Tranzac to the parking lot behind Honest Ed’s (which happens to be across the street from new Fringe location Randolph). The move makes a lot of sense in terms of giving the festival a central, highly visible hub that’s pretty much exactly in the midpoint of the festival’s various reaches to Tarragon in the north, UofT in the east, and Factory/Passe Muraille in the south. Those interested in participating in next year’s festival had better get a move on it, though: the new, early application deadline this year is this Wednesday.
The other big piece of news is My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, which opened last night at the Panasonic Theatre (thanks again, Mirvish!). After an impossible-to-get-tickets-for smash hit run at Bread & Circus for this year’s Fringe (and a brief remount at Berkeley Street as part of the Best of the Fringe), this hugely successful, highly likable show is back in a new, expanded production. Going straight from a small stage to a Mirvish production is, of course, the Fringe dream, albeit a rarely realized one, so we can’t help rooting for this little show that could.
After the fold, we have a chat with the director of My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding, Andrew Lamb.

The Andrew Lamb Interview

MMLJWW director Andrew Lamb. Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann.

Torontoist: A lot of Fringe shows dream about being the next Drowsy Chaperone or Da Kink in My Hair. Did you think something like that would happen to My Mother’s Lesbian Jewish Wiccan Wedding?
Andrew Lamb: When I first read the script I knew that it was something unique and special. I figured that the show would do well, but I never anticipated the buzz or how far it would go—and certainly not this fast!
What kinds of changes can we expect from the new version of the show? The press release mentioned a larger cast, and expanded show—what do you have to do to turn a DIY Fringe show into a Mirvish extravaganza?
The show has been expanded to 90 minutes and explores more of Claire’s story. Audiences will learn more about her struggle, see how she fell in love with Jane, gain a sense of what it means to be Wiccan, and they’ll see more about Claire’s relationship with her ex-husband. The expanded cast and the new space allows for larger show-stopping dance numbers, and the new songs meld beautifully with the rest of the score.
Why do you think the show has been so successful at connecting with audiences? Is there something about a lesbian Jewish Wiccan wedding that everyone can relate to?
I feel this story is incredibly universal. It is a story about the love two people have for each other and the love between a child and their parent. I feel this play also asks the question of the audience: How would you react if your parent came out to you? Or revealed an unexpected secret? Would you be accepting?
With its dual love stories of both a middle-aged woman and her child, and its wedding-based plotline, MMLJWW is sort of like an even gayer version of past Mirvish hit Mamma Mia! Do you think it has the chance of reaching as large an audience? And how does the show’s queer content make it different than your typical musical theatre fare? Or, does it?
Judging by the first two preview audiences this story has appeal over many ages and backgrounds. I was honestly amazed at the variety of people attending the first weekend. The queer content opens many comedic doors, like having two lesbian moms sing “You Don’t Need A Penis” to their future daughter-in-law. As for comparisons to being gayer than Mamma Mia!, this show actually addresses gay and lesbian issues while remaining completely accessible to a wider audience. My hope is that everyone who attends this show will be thoroughly entertained and enlightened.