Here we are, in the start of May, but without any Spring weather ( it seems more like March) heading off to Munster Indiana for their non-musical production, “Miracle on South Division Street”, a Chicago premiere written by Tom Dudzick, only to find that the Division Street in the title is NOT in Chicago at all ( that would not be South), but in Buffalo New York, and that the story is what one might call a Holiday Production, as it begins on a Christmas Eve, in Buffalo. What? Yes! That is what this very funny comedy starts off as, but it is a comedy filled with twists and turns, at almost every corner as we learn a great deal about the Nowak Family of Buffalo New York.
The matriarch of the family is Clara ( the always reliable Marilyn Bogetich, who has a great comical sense of timing); her three children are , Jimmy ( deftly handled by Joe Popp) a garbage man, Beverly ( Erin Noel Grennan) and Ruth ( a solid performance by Adria Dawn, who , even with a sore throat gave us a solid performance proving the old statement, “the play must go on” to be very true), a struggling actress. On this particular Christmas Eve, it is Ruth that has called the family together for a meeting relative to a particular family situation.
At this point, I must tell you a little background on the Nowak family. Clara’s father, was a barber and had a shop on the block, back when she was just a little girl it was said that her father’s shop was visited by The Virgin Mary, thus the American Polish community of blue collar workers felt that their neighborhood was blessed and Grandpa Nowak had a statue erected where people could come and pray ( as well as drop donations). Where the barber shop once stood, there is now a soup kitchen and of course the shrine.
Now, back to the meeting. Ruth, who was at her grandmothers bedside the night she passed away has been writing a book about the Miracle and on this particular day needs to make some announcements to her family to help set the record straight. That is all I will say, so I will not spoil the party for you, but like his other play,”Over The Tavern”, it is a story filled with laughter. Not just laughter, but about relationships, religion, tradition and customs. It is about young people finding out who they are and what true love really is.
Directed to perfection by William Pullinsi, who has a knack for comedy that is very original in his understanding of how the smallest thing on a stage can make an impact on an audience. This is a play filled with life’s little surprises and a wonderfu diversion for the stress in our eveyday lives. The set ( Jeff Bauer) is a very nice home and Brenda Winsted’s costumes are fitting, the lighting by Shelly Strasser-Holland, the sound by Barry g. Funderburg and the props ( of which there are many) by Jessie Howe complete the picture.
What is delightful about taking the ride to Munster, and it is an easy one, is that there is plenty of free parking, lots of leg room in the comfortable theater, an adorable gift shop and art gallery on premise, and they have nibbles and drinks at intermission for a buck! You can also fill up your gas tank for far less than you pay in Chicago. Worth the trip, just for these things, but what is more- they always give you quality theater for an affordable price.
“Miracle on South Division Street” is only running through June 1st with performances as follows:
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets range from $40-$44 and are available by calling 219-836-3255 or Tickets.com at 800-511-1552
To get directions and learn more about special events visit www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com
The theater is located at 1040 Ridge Road ( just off of Calumet /rt41, south of Hwy 94. 35 minutes from the loop.
to see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “Miracle on South Division Street”