The popular regional plays, Over the Tavern and its sequel, King O' the Moon: Over the Tavern, Part 2, will have a triplet come fall.
Playwright Tom Dudzick's Lake Effect: Over the Tavern Part 3 will get a weeklong NEA-sponsored workshop beginning June 11 in Manhattan followed by a followup reading in July (to incorporate rewrites). A November world premiere at Buffalo's Studio Arena Theatre is planned, the playwright told Playbill On-Line. Terrence LaMude directed the premieres of the first two plays and will helm the workshop and fall preem of No. 3.
The plays follow the lives of the Polish-Catholic Pazinski family of Buffalo, NY, in the late 1950s, the 1960s and, in the new play, the winter of 1977 — during "the infamous blizzard of '77, which devastated the entire Western portion of New York State," Dudzick said.
The third play in the trilogy takes place in the barroom of Chet's Bar & Grill (the tavern of the titles). The first play was in the apartment above the patriarch's saloon, the second was set in the backyard of the building.
The first work, a coming-of-age chronicle of Polish-Catholic schoolboy Rudy Pazinski, was popular at Buffalo's Studio Arena Theatre (three times) and at the Pittsburgh Public and beyond, getting numerous stagings at regional theatres around the country. Two characters have been added for Part 3: Aunt Marge, who is matriarch Ellen Pazinski's sister, and Dinty Shanahan, a neighborhood character and barfly, Dudzick said.
"Rudy is more or less the central character, although it really is an ensemble piece," Dudzick told Playbill On-Line. "Rudy has left the seminary far behind him and has now taken time off from pursuing a playwriting career in New York City to fly home and help out with a family crisis. He's 30 years old now."
The workshop cast includes Karl Kenzler (Rudy), Babo Harrison (as sister Annie), Dylan Chalfy (as brother Eddie), Ryan Patrick Bachand (as brother Georgie), Carol Morley (as the mother, Ellen), Johnette Sullivan (Aunt Marge). Dinty Shanahan has not been cast yet.
Playwright Dudzick, a Buffalo native, was commissioned by Studio Arena artistic director Gavin Cameron-Webb to write the semi-autobiographical plays about the contentious but warm and loving clan.
Dudzick's Over the Tavern, about family ties and Catholic upbringing in Buffalo in the late 1950s, was one of the major regional hits of the 1990s, playing Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, MA, Meadow Brook Theatre in the Detroit area, Sacramento Theatre Company, Capital Repertory Company in Albany, Little Lake Theatre Company in Canonsburg, PA, and Mountain Playhouse in Jennerstown, PA, Cincinnati Playhouse in Park, Actors' Theatre of Ashland, OR, and elsewhere.
In the sequel, the first play's wisecracking kid protagonist, Rudy, was a seminarian in his 20s in the late 1960s, and he and his siblings look back at the loss of their father and explore their values in a time of cultural change. Eddie's wife, Maureen, and bartender Walter, both of Part 2, are not in the new play.
Dudzick has been called a Catholic Neil Simon for his warm, funny portrayals of middle class families. He was born in Buffalo, NY, in 1950.
He wrote and produced dinner theatre in Western New York, became a Buffalo-area favorite and moved to New York City in 1979. While working day jobs, he wrote a one-act comedy, Me, Too, Then, which won an award and was published by Samuel French. Greetings! was produced Off-Broadway starring Darren McGavin and has also become a regional favorite. He lives in the New York City area with his wife and two children.
"Lake Effect" refers to the meteorological occurrence that dumps extra snow on a region due to the moisture from a nearby lake — Lake Erie, in this case.
— By Kenneth Jones