Over the Tavern
by Tom Dudzick
Eisenhower was president, the superpowers were neck and neck in the Space Race, Ed Sullivan owned Sunday night and the Pazinski family of Buffalo, New York was totally unaware of the events that would change them forever. Stage 3’s “Over the Tavern” is their hilarious, heartbreaking and heartwarming story.
For its holiday offering , Stage 3 has mined this tough and tender blue-collar comedy from the author of last season’s hit “Greetings!”
Tom Dudzick’s “Over the Tavern” was called “Absolutely enchanting… a little bit of heaven.” by the Chicago Tribune. “Utterly charming.” said the Chicago Sun Times. “With a heart as big as its belly laughs.” exclaimed the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
Life is not a bed of roses for the Pazinkis. Mom and Pop are struggling to make a life for themselves and their kids in a rough and tumble Polish neighborhood by running the local saloon. Times are tough and it shows. In their cramped apartment over the tavern the Pazinski teenagers wonder why their family can’t be like the ones they see on ‘Ozzie and Harriet’ or ‘Father Knows Best’. Pop has forgotten the spaghetti for dinner and there’s nothing eat but canned beets.
Enter 12 year old Rudy, the family free thinker and resident wisecracker, fresh from his latest run-in with Sister Clarissa. Instead of being confirmed into the Catholic church Rudy has discovered that there are 1300 religions in the world and he would rather “shop around”. Besides, it’s much more fun to spend his time impersonating Ed Sullivan. Sister Clarissa, at the end of her patience explodes “ Do you think Jesus went around doing Ed Sullivan? Did Ed Sullivan die on the cross for your sins?”
Artistic Director Don Bilotti enthuses, “This play is like a Tootsie Pop, a wonderful comedy wrapped around a touching drama. It’s the first of a trilogy that traces the Pazinski family over 20 years and we hope to do all three.”
Stage 3 has once again tapped Van Gordon to direct. A regional favorite as an actor, Gordon has provided the theater with its last two holiday hits, “Over the River and through the Woods” and “Greetings!”
The delightful Maryann Curmi takes to the boards as Ellen, the mother who holds her family together with sheer love and humor. Sally McClellan, as Sister Clarissa, breaks the cliché of the ruler-wielding nun (though she can bust knuckles with the best of them). Newcomer Dale Friend plays the gruff but possibly loveable father who can’t understand the changes his family is going through.
But the secret weapons of the piece are the Pazinski children. Young Rudy, who must carry the play with crackling comic intelligence, is played by Russell Germain. His older brothers, the brawling Eddie and mentally challenged Georgie are played by Jake McCarthy and Eric Tolar. Reneé A’Dair is Twinkie-chomping Annie, a sensitive young girl just flowering into womanhood.
Set design will be by Denny Anderson with scenic elements and design by Ron Cotnam, lighting design by Matthew Leamy , costumes by Ronda Hanson and props by Cindy George.
This production is partially funded by Associate Producers, the Sonora Sunrise Rotary.