By Nancy Oliveri
If the community enjoyed the Irish “appetizer” of Parade Day earlier this month in Binghamton, they’ll love the “entrée” opening on St. Patrick’s Day (tomorrow, March 17) in Endicott.
BLAST (Bold Local Artists of the Southern Tier) will present Over the Pub by Buffalo playwright Tom Dudzick at the Cider Mill Stage.
Dudzick’s earlier version, based on his own Polish American family’s upbringing in 1950s Buffalo, was entitled Over the Tavern. According to BLAST’s Kate Murray, a woman in Ireland read the earlier play and approached Dudzick about doing an Irish adaptation. She convinced him that it would lend itself perfectly to an Irish family comedy, and so Over the Pub was born. The adaptation is set in Ireland in the 1960s, a decade and a continent away.
A Catholic family is living over their pub. They have all of the family dysfunction you might expect from a bunch of kids and their parents crammed into an apartment, but as Murray explains, a Catholic upbringing, or even a large family background, is not a prerequisite for enjoying and gleaning something meaningful from this very funny two-act play.
The press release summarizes the play thus:
“When a celebrity-impersonating class clown clashes with a cranky Catholic school nun, all Hell breaks loose! It is1964, and 12-year-old Thomas Murphy (Jack Wolf) only wants some answers.”
Thomas has questions about his hot-headed dad, Pat (Larry Guidici); his mom, Ellen (Kathleen Cook), and why must he be confirmed as a Catholic when “there’s got to be thousands of more fun religions to choose from.”
After Thomas’s questions try the patience of ruler-wielding Sister Mary Agnes (Bridget Kane), the corporal punishing nun decides to visit the Murphys’ apartment. There she encounters Pat, Ellen and Thomas’s siblings: 17-year-old Annie (Elizabeth Hotalen), 15-year-old Eddie (Liam Roma) and 9-year-old Mikie (Nolan Whigham). Each of these characters gives Sister Mary Agnes a little more perspective on what it means to be Thomas and why he is questioning his faith and the whole approach to life in 1960s County Cork, Ireland.
According to Murray, this is an ultimately warm-hearted Irish comedy, which aims to teach the importance of questioning family values and religious education. In the process, it will have you rolling in the aisles with laughter and happy for how the Murphys ultimately handle their challenges.
IF YOU GO: Performances of Over the Pub are at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday through Saturday (March 17-19) and March 25 and 26 and at 2:30 p.m. this Sunday (March 20) and March 27. Tickets at $25 can be reserved by visiting cidermillstage.com or by calling t607-321-9630. Current CDC protocols concerning COVID will be followed.