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VIDEO: "Once Upon a Wedding" dinner theater experience is a perfect Valentine's Day treat

SAN DIEGO – This Valentine’s Day, San Diegans are invited to a wedding and they don’t even have to bring a gift!

Laughing Tree Productions will present its original production of “Once Upon A Wedding,” a musical-comedy dinner experience at the Lafayette Hotel in North Park on Feb. 14 and 15.

The show includes an evening complete with food, music, dancing and interactive entertainment, featuring hit songs from the 1950s to today – and is fun for the entire family.

“Once Upon a Wedding” is produced and performed by Laughing Tree Productions, directed by Lisa Laughbaum. She also stars in the show as Liza, the wedding singer.

“This show is all about fast-paced laughs and interactive entertainment,” Laughbaum said. “The audience really becomes like a part of the family, and gets to experience all the joys of attending a real wedding without the pressure of buying a perfect gift. After all, every wedding needs its crashers!”

Laughbaum, who wrote most of the script for “Once Upon A Wedding” with the help of her son Ian (who plays Chris Crost, the wedding coordinator in training), describes her family story as “pretty unique:”

Three life-long entertainers; two who just ended a 22-year stretch as the house band on the Bahia Belle in Mission Bay, now venturing out on their own producing a show they wrote, directed, act and sing in. Accompanied by their 15-year-old son who co-wrote the show, an intelligent well spoken home-schooled young man who's been performing since he was 4.

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News spoke with Laughbaum to learn more about her family, the production and her work:

SDGLN: What interested Laughing Tree Productions in this production?

Lisa Laughbaum: My mother, Zina Kuhn, was a true avid thespian, and after she passed, I wanted to write something in her honor. My husband, Mike, and I had been working as the house band on the Bahia Belle for 20 years when the murder mystery that had been playing aboard her sister ship, The William D. Evans, decided to call it quits. I decided to pitch the show idea as a replacement to the Bahia staff; they liked it and agreed to give it a go. We ran there successfully for 2 years; it was so successful that we needed to find a larger venue, hence our new affiliation with The Lafayette.

SDGLN: What type of music can audience members expect to hear in the show?

LL: The musical score consists of cover tunes, very popular songs that everyone knows and loves. Covered artists range from Frank Sinatra to The Beatles to The Plain White T's and everything in between.

SDGLN: Is dinner theater common in San Diego? For theater-goers who aren’t used to this type of production, what can you say to them to make them excited about it?

LL:Unless you're looking to solve a mystery, dinner theater is almost non-existent in San Diego. Unlike most dinner theater where you eat dinner first then watch the show, our show is a true immersive experience from the moment you enter till the moment you leave. I liken it to “Medieval Times” without the horses!

SDGLN: For those readers who have attended a dinner theater production before, what should they expect?

LL: Honestly, except for all the singing it feels like you are at a real wedding. There's a ceremony, dinner, wedding cake, toasts and reception complete with dancing, a conga line and a garter and bouquet toss.

SDGLN: Why should people see this show?

LL: It's very unique and unlike anything else that's out there. Sure there are other comedy weddings, but ours is so much more like the real thing that guests leave feeling uplifted, yearning to spend some quality time with their loved ones (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more, say no more!) There is so much negativity in our world today; our show offers a much needed respite from the cares and woes and reminds us that "All You Need Is Love!"

SDGLN: Is this show fun and suitable for the whole family?

LL: This is definitely a family-friendly show and kids (6 and older) often seem to be having the most fun of all, especially on the dance floor! With songs from the 50's to today the show appeals to every generation. I say again, it's just like being at a real wedding.

SDGLN: What are some other shows you have performed in, Lisa?

LL: Over the years, I've performed in various musicals (“Sweeney Todd,” “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat,” “Sweet Charity”) but my first love is music. My husband, Mike, and I have a rock duo called B Natural, and we played all over San Diego until we landed at The Bahia Belle in Mission Bay. We played there every weekend for the last 22 years. It wasn't until just this year (2013) that we finally got replaced by a DJ. Right now, I'm concentrating on getting "Once Upon A Wedding" up and running but once that happens I'm sure you'll find us playing around town again somewhere. I also perform children's music and have 10 CDs that sell successfully on iTunes under the name Miss Lisa.

SDGLN: Any closing thoughts?

LL: It's the perfect Valentine’s Day event! VIP tickets include a corsage or boutonnière and a souvenir photo.

The cast and crew

Laughbaum calls her cast “amazingly talented” and says that each one of them brings such life to their characters.

“They make the event seem truly believable,” Laughbaum said.

Cast members include:

Lindsey Pino - Daisy, the bride

Chris Ball - Davis, the groom

Kim Frost - Zina, the mother of the bride

Rick Rutti - Robert, the father of the bride

Anna Suzette Eblen - Debbie, Davis' sister and the maid of honor

Ken Baker - Daisy's great uncle Julie

Ian Laughbaum - Chris Crost, the wedding coordinator in training

Michael Laughbaum - Bill, the guitarist

Lisa Laughbaum - Liza, the wedding singer

Curtis Mueller - Lighting Design and engineer

Jason LaRocca - Sound Engineer

Tickets and more information

General admission tickets are $64.95 and include a gourmet dinner, wedding cake, coffee service, champagne toast, and entertainment. VIP seats are available for $94.95 and also include a corsage or boutonniere, souvenir photo, and priority seating.

Discounted tickets are available for seniors, children ages 6-12, and groups.

For tickets, click HERE.