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Tom Dudzick will return home to direct 'Over the Tavern' at the Kav

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Buffalo-born playwright Tom Dudzick on the set of "Hail Mary" in 2004. Buffalo News file photo.

Tom Dudzick, the Buffalo-born playwright whose "Over the Tavern" series captured the imaginations of thousands of Western New Yorkers in the mid-'90s and early-2000s, will return home in September to direct his most popular play at the Kavinoky Theatre.

Last year, Dudzick directedhit production of his play "Miracle on South Division Street" at the Kav, a move that evidently endeared the theater and its audience -- as if it could possibly be endeared any more -- to the playwright's Buffalo-tinged dialogue and working-class humor. This year marks the 20th anniversary of Studio Arena premiere of the play, an autobiographical look at the travails of a family living above a tavern on the city's East Side.

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Bonnie Jean Taylor and Ellen Horst, right, in Tom Dudzick's "Miracle on South Division Street."

The play and its two sequels have since become part of the city's theatrical fabric and even its national identity, popping up frequently in community theaters and regional theaters across the United States.

The opening date has not yet been set, but the play will likely fall into the Kavinoky's Curtain Up! slot during the second week of September. In an email, Dudzick said that Ellen Horst -- the de facto star of "Miracle on South Division Street" -- has been cast in the role of Sister Clarissa, originally brought to life on the Studio Arena stage by Jeanne Cairns. The rest of the roles will be cast after auditions in April.

"How often does this happen to a playwright?" Dudzick said in an email Monday morning. "I get to tell the story of MY childhood in MY city, and it'll be performed by people who live here and understand. It doesn't get much more personal than that!"

--Colin Dabkowski

 

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