Playwright Tom Dudzick told Playbill On-Line that Part III of his Buffalo set trilogy that began with the popular regional hit, Over the Tavern, will get a New York City reading in summer 2001 prior to a world premiere by Buffalo Studio Arena.
The story of the third, still-untitled play takes place 10 years after Part II, which was called King o' the Moon. The new play is set during the fictitious "blizzard of '79."
Terence Lamude, who guided past stagings of Over the Tavern and King o' the Moon, will helm the summer reading and subsequent Studio Arena staging, likely in the 2001-2002 season, Dudzick said.
Buffalo Studio Arena commissioned parts two and three after the sell-out success of Over the Tavern, a slice of Polish-Catholic family life — with local references — in the late 1950s.
The first coming-of-age play took off as one of the most-produced works in regional theatre in the late 1990s, playing major regional venues such as Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. Buffalo Studio Arena has presented Over the Tavern three times and King o' the Moon twice. Dudzick's comedy about the fictional Pazinski family — focusing on son Rudy — was inspired by his boyhood growing up above his father's bar in Buffalo. The sequel, Over the Tavern Part II: King O' the Moon, with siblings all grown up, was an instant hit in November 1998 at the Studio Arena and nearly sold out when the co-production moved to the Pittsburgh Public Theater in January 1999.
Dudzick previously told Playbill On-Line: "I'm not sure which spouses will appear on stage. I can tell you with a fair amount of certainty, though, that Rudy, the main character, would be visiting the old Buffalo homestead from his home in New York City, where he is pursuing a playwriting career."
Audiences fell in love with young Rudy of the first play. The pre adolescent with a vivid imagination struggled with his three siblings, his folks and a stern nun teacher as he asked questions about faith, God and hell in the late 1950s. His impersonations of Ed Sullivan were a high point for Baby Boomers.
In the second play, King O' the Moon, set in the late 1960s, Rudy and his mother and siblings struggle with social changes and personal problems — some faith-related — as they remember the first play's now deceased patriarch. Rudy, a seminarian in his 20s in the late 1960s, and his siblings explore values in a time of cultural change.
It was not a master plan to create a "Pazinski Trilogy," Dudzick previously said. When Studio Arena artistic director Gavin Cameron-Webb commissioned him to write another play after the success of Over the Tavern, Dudzick joked with him: "'We'll do a sequel to Over the Tavern!' And then I called Gavin a while later and said, 'We're not going to do a sequel, we're going to do a trilogy.'" Dudzick said at the time he had no idea exactly what form the stories would take, but, "I knew the material was there in the back of my head."
Over the Tavern has played 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, Seven Angels Theatre of Waterbury, CT, Cincinnati Playhouse in Park and Actors' Theatre of Ashland, OR.
The fall 1998 Studio Arena world premiere staging of King o' the Moon returned to that theatre in summer 1999.
The company of King O' the Moon included Sean Maher (Rudy), Stephen Kunken (Eddie), Gavin Hawk (Georgie), Judith K. Hart (Ellen), Jenn Thompson (Maureen), Stephen Gaines (Walter), and Stacey Lynn Brass (Annie). Shortly after the Buffalo opening, Donald Christopher left the role of Walter due to health reasons and was replaced by Gaines. Christopher died in 1999.
Designers were Gary English (providing the Buffalo back yard setting), Martha Hally (costumes), Tom Sturge (lighting), Tom Gould (sound). Stage manager was David S. Stewart.
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.
— By Kenneth Jones