Delightful Comedy Theater Aboard a Riverboat Cruise

SANFORD — Ok, quick question: what can be more fun than taking a relaxing cruise along the picturesque St. Johns River?

How about seeing a very funny dinner theater show while enjoying your dinner and drinks?

If you’ve never taken a cruise with the St. John’s River ship Company, you’ve missed out on a spectacular opportunity to see some beautiful sights in Seminole and Volusia counties. If it’s a mild afternoon you can stand outside on the deck for a better view of the nature surrounding you. If it’s a hot summer day, the ship is well air-conditioned and the bar is open.

Now the cruise ship has partnership with director, actor and Valencia College theater professor John DiDonna and his Phantasmagoria Orlando troop for The Barbara-Lee Comedy Wedding: A Dinner Theatre Adventure. You see, there’s a wedding planned that evening aboard the ship, and let’s just say that the motley collection of New Yorkers who flew to Florida for a riverboat wedding bring a lot of Noo Yawk ‘tude to the ceremony.

What is The Barbara-Lee Comedy Wedding?

So how does it all work? Patrons gather at the dock and the ship begins boarding at 4:30 p.m. for a 5 p.m. sail. For three hours, those passengers get dinner, dessert, and drinks while the party wedding goes a bit cray-cray. But if every wedding was quiet and low key, what fun would that be?

Those New Yorkers came to Sanford for a wedding to remember! Ironically, that’s exactly what they get.

Problems start minutes after the ship sets sail. The bridegroom misses the boat and it needs to sail back (twice!) to pick him up. The bride’s party and the groom’s party don’t always seem to hit it off, if you know what I mean.

Things get even more complicated when the groom learns his new wife actually had a bridal shower before the wedding (Oops!) even though they both agreed not to have one or a bachelor’s party. Steamed, the groom decides he wants to throw his own makeshift bachelor party right then and there. Paging Magic Mike!

The passengers on the cruise ship, of course, because wedding guests for this immersive live theatre show, particularly when DiDonna, our ship’s DJ, spins a danceable tune and the members of the wedding party can’t resist pulling folks out of the audience to boogie. Disco numbers, conga lines and slow ballads all beckon the passengers onto the dance floor to show what they can do. Not surprisingly, quite a few of them, of all ages, eagerly did.

It’s easy to get caught up in the high spirits of the production, all done with a fabulous cast of Central Florida performers who will be well known to anyone who has been to the Orlando International Fringe Theater Festival in the past. The spirit of comedic insanity is alive and well on this show.

While Phantasmagoria is well known for its annual spookfest shows around October and they’re creepy-and-sentimental version of A Christmas Carol over the holidays, this is a true Let your hair down mayhem comedy, suitable for the entire family.

Oh, and by the way, here’s a tip: Wedding gifts are not required … but if you don’t bring anything, he careful that Uncle Salvatore doesn’t notice.

Where Can I See The Barbara-Lee Wedding Cruise show?

The 3 hour cruise on the St. Johns River begins at their dock at 433 N. Palmetto Ave. in downtown Sanford, and includes not just the comedy show but also a four course meal and generous servings of Ice Tea and Sweet Ice Tea, or optional drinks to purchase. 

The show, which officially launched on Sunday, June 9, will be performed on the second and fourth Sunday of each month, with guests boarding at 4:30 p.m. and the Rivership cruising from 5-8 p.m.

On the 4th Thursday of each month, it will become a lunch cruise boarding at 10:30 a.m., then cruising from 11-2 p.m. For tickets or additional information, visit the St. Johns Rivership online or call 321-320-8466.

Michael Freeman is an Orlando journalist, playwright and author of the terrifying book “Bloody Rabbit”. Contact him at


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