Tom Dudzick's hit Catholic-family comedy, Over the Tavern, makes its Chicago-area debut Oct. 3, when previews by Northlight Theatre begin in Skokie, IL.
In Catholic-rich Chicago, the regional smash that started at Buffalo's Studio Arena and played resident houses throughout the country in the 1990s, would have seemed an obvious programming choice for the Windy City years ago. William Pullinsi directs the gentle coming-of-age comedy, which its author would argue is about much more than "growing up Catholic." The play, officially opening Oct. 10, would spawn a sequel that further followed the Pazinski family, the clan that lives over the patriarch's neighborhood bar in the 1950s. The precocious 12-year-old, Rudy, an Ed Sullivan impersonator, challenges Sister Clarissa, his teacher, in a time when issues of faith and religion were becoming less black and white in America.
The first play takes place in the late 1950s, and the sequel, King O' the Moon, was set 10 years later in the Vietnam era. Dudzick has penned a second sequel, Lake Effect, set in the late 1970s, and Buffalo's Studio Arena will offer the premiere Nov. 29. "I'm still nipping and tucking the script and we rehearse Nov. 1," the author told Playbill On-Line. Dudzick, a Buffalo area native, also wrote the popular holiday play, Greetings.
The Skokie company includes Craig Spidle, Mary Seibel, Kate Buddeke, James McKay, Katie Korby, Ross Harris and (as Rudy) Bobby Anderson. Designers are Richard and Jacqueline Penrod (set), Judith Lundberg (costumes), Charles Jolls (lights) and Joe Tech Huppert (sound).
Northlight's Over the Tavern is produced in association with Pullinsi and D'Angelo Productions. Performances continue to Nov. 11 at the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts, 9501 Skokie Blvd., in Skokie. For information, call (847) 673-6300 or visit the website at www.northlight.org. — By Kenneth Jones