Over the Tavern Part II: King O' the Moon was such a hit in its December 1998 staging at Buffalo Studio Arena, it returns May 22 with all but one of the original cast members, continuing to June 13.
Tom Dudzick's warm family comedy is a sequel to his popular, nationally produced Over the Tavern, the coming of-age story of pre-teen Rudy Pazinski, who struggles with growing up, siblings and a fierce nun named Sister Clarissa in parochial school in 1959.
The first play was embraced by Buffalo theatregoers who recognized local references in native Dudzick's script. Dudzick grew up over his father's tavern, as does Rudy. Since 1994, regional theatres throughout the country -- most recently, Cincinnati's Playhouse in the Park -- staged Over the Tavern to huge audience acclaim. In Buffalo alone, it played three separate times.
The sequel, King O' the Moon, commissioned in 1998 by Buffalo Studio Arena, is set 10 years later, in 1969, as the family comes together to remember the clan's dead patriarch during a time of social change. It played Buffalo Nov. 29, 1998-Jan. 3, 1999. The staging was a co production with Pittsburgh Public Theatre, which presented it Jan. 7-Feb. 14.
The returning cast includes Stephen Kunken, Stacey Lynn Brass, Gavin Hawk, Judith K. Hart, Jenn Thompson and Stephen Gaines. Sean Maher will not return as seminarian Rudy; he's working on another project. Rudy is now played by Jason Bowcutt (of OB's Never The Sinner). May 22 is considered the official opening. Terrence Lamude, who staged three productions of Over the Tavern at Studio Arena, directs. The first play, Over the Tavern, is scheduled to return to the Studio for a fourth time Nov. 28-Dec. 23, 1999. It is not a subscription offering.
Dudzick told Playbill On-Line that he's working on a third Buffalo-set play about the same characters.
Designers are Gary English (providing the Buffalo back yard setting), Martha Hally (costumes), Tom Sturge (lighting), Tom Gould (sound).
Tickets are $18-$40.50. For Buffalo Studio Arena information, call (716) 856-5650 or (800) 77-STAGE.
The playwright told Playbill On-Line that Over the Tavern will likely be presented by Repertory Theatre of St. Louis in March 2000.
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.
Over the Tavern (1994) and its sequel draw on aspects of Dudzick's Polish-Catholic upbringing in Buffalo. He lives in the New York City area with his wife and two children.
-- By Kenneth Jones