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Over the Tavern

Sep 19, 2012 11:45AM ● By Anonymous

Either way, the award-winning professional theater is still going strong, producing nine shows per season from February to December, in addition to a series of festivals, workshops, and other educational outreach programs. It’s also home to “one of only three theaters in the country to operate under such a contract” as one by the Actors’ Equity Association Council of Stock Theatres (COST).

Beginning Sept. 26th, the theatre will raise the curtain for Over the Tavern by Tom Dudzick, under the direction of John Going, a New Yorker. The show, which features a cast half-full of children, follows a precocious 12-year-old boy named Rudy who struggles to comprehend, let alone follow, the rules of his Catholic school upbringing. According to the synopsis, Rudy “believes that we were put on earth to have fun. He refuses to be force-fed rules and values from anyone—not from his parents and especially not from Sister Clarissa.”

“It takes place in Buffalo in the Polish section of town—this family is very Polish Catholic—in 1959, pre-Vatican II,” says Going. “And it’s [this boy’s] coming of age story...he’s fighting against what he thinks is not right...his father runs a tavern, and they live over it.”

The show is laced with humor and underlined with sentiment. “It’s very, very funny, very charming,” says Going. “The humor is terrific, and it’s touching because it’s a struggling family; they have a lot of problems that are very recognizable to many families.”

With a cast of more children than adults, Going says, the production has been interesting, but impressive. “There are seven characters, and four are children, so that’s tricky. The young people are age 12, 13, 15, and 16, and [through the casting call] we were able to get four really top notch kids,” he says. “But when you have young people in a show you have extra things you have to be concerned about, like arranging [the rehearsal schedule] around school. And when you start to work with people you haven’t worked with before, you’re always trying to figure out how to speak to them, how to get the best out of them—and that’s always a challenge, but an interesting one. It’s fun—they’re really fun to work with, they’re very imaginative...and these are young people who have some real experience.”

Going also has taken a liking to a specific character. “I’m particularly fond of the mother, who’s very dry,” he says. “She has a lot to deal with, with these four kids and her husband who works hard and doesn’t have a lot of time to spend with the family. She’s got a wicked wit and her take on situations is very funny, and yet she deals with everything. I admire her spirit as well as her dry wit.”

The show has been popping up all over the United States, and audiences seem to be taking to it—one of the many reasons the Olney Theatre Center decided to produce it. “Over the Tavern will appeal to a wide range—young people because it’s about them, and older people because it’s about the people they’re trying to deal with,” says Going. It’s funny, but it’s got heart and sentiment and something to say. All the things that plays should have.”

For more information, to check show times or to buy tickets, visit Olneytheatre.org or call 301-924-3400.