The Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis’ sanctuary was packed Monday, September 8, for the highly anticipated “Wine & Words” evening hosted by Bay Theatre. The evening was free, as was the wine, but the space was brimming with fans of previous Bay Theatre productions – all eager to see how Four Weddings and an Elvis would be handled. The show, itself, was a bravura performance. It was easy to forget the actors were reading from a script. Among the standout performances, Valerie Leonard as “Vanessa” and Nigel Reed as “Bryce,” portrayed TV stars whose luster had long dimmed – but they were too dim-witted to realize it. Their “Don’t you know who I am?” personas were perfectly realized. You don’t see that type in Annapolis too often, but it’s part of the scene in Manhattan (and, from recent media reports, in Wasilla, Alaska, among the Palin clan). A Las Vegas wedding chapel, presided over by a brittle, snarky “Sandy” (Rena Cherry Brown) is the scene for several weddings, some of which, for obvious reasons don’t happen. A few of the folks who show up for a quickie wedding ceremony are there for the wrong reasons.
The evening’s bombshell was dropped at the curtain. The cast hustled off the stage. The announcer asked people to remain in their seats. A wedding march struck up. An officiant, Andrew Smith, ordained online through American Marriage Ministries, took center stage and waited. Two little flower girls skipped up the aisle, followed by the bridesmaids (including Leonard and Brown), and the groomsmen. Most of the wedding party had unobtrusively mingled with the regular guests. The women draped jackets or kimonos over their navy blue dresses, and the guys removed their formal jackets and ties.
Who was getting married? Who was the bride? The audience gasped. The bride was Janet Luby, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of Bay Theatre. She was stunning in a long, white, sleeveless, lacy sheath. She was wed to her longtime boyfriend Steven Strawn. The audience gave the newlyweds a standing ovation. Then everyone poured into the narthex for another treat – reception food, more wine, and wedding cake. And, to catch our breath.