by Tom Dudzick
directed by Richard E. Hess
September 4 – 21, 2014
Memories as fragile as glass are tossed into the air in Tennessee Williams’ first great masterpiece. Dreams meet reality and love becomes desperate in a shimmering drama of a family on the edge. Tom struggles in a modern day world while his mother holds tight to a fantasy of Southern gentility and his sister hides amongst the glistening crystalline creatures she collects. With an edge as sharp as broken glass, it’s a story that cuts deep into the longing of human hearts.
Marion’s PIAZZA | John and Tamara Clough
Miracle on South Division Street is pure fiction, based on a “true” local legend.
Back in busy, bustling 1950s Buffalo, a block and a half from my father’s tavern, there stood a barbershop. Next to the barbershop was a 20-foot-tall shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary – a beautiful life-sized statue encased in wood, brick and glass. It’s raison d’être? Well, legend had it that the Blessed Mother herself appeared to this barber and gave him a message for the world concerning world peace. (She was in favor of it.) Whether this miraculous materialization actually took place is still a matter of conjecture, but, regardless, there it stood, this monument to a man’s faith for us impressionable kids to gawk at and wonder about. The nuns at St. Pat’s told us not to waste our prayers or coins on the ersatz saint as the mighty Roman Catholic Church had no intention of ever sanctioning this hokey miracle. And that’s how the matter stood at the time I left the neighborhood in 1964.
Fast forward 45 years. My old neighborhood has all but disappeared. Businesses and homes have succumbed to hard times and neglect. Its denizens have fled to the suburbs, and St. Pat’s is gone. But amidst the rubble of urban blight something still stands, dare I say, “miraculously?” You guessed it, the shrine to the Blessed Mother – spared from the wrecking ball by a promise from City Hall, lovingly preserved by a handful of faithful residents, its creator long passed away.
I made a pilgrimage to my old neighborhood a couple of years ago. I stood before the shrine—newly Windexed, freshly flowered, its mail slot still active with donations and requests for miracles—and I thought to myself, “There’s a story here.” The real-life details of its origin were forever buried with the barber, so I needed to invent a family.
And you will meet them, the Nowaks of Buffalo’s East Side – amalgams of people I grew up with, some friends and family, and a little of myself sprinkled in. After our close interaction these last couple of years I find that I’ve fallen head over bowling shoes for the Nowaks, with all their crassness, their squabbles, their secrets and their dreams. I hope they’ll get under your skin as well. Enjoy!
A Note from Director Richard E. Hess
I was born in Buffalo, New York in a large Catholic family, and the pressure to do right, and live right, and pray right was simple and unequivocal. I went to church every weekend, I chose a loved item to sacrifice for Lent, did not eat meat on Fridays, and went to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve. My growing up was marked by first communions and confirmations and aunts with rosary beads and fancy Sunday hats or veils.
Tom Dudzick writes beautiful plays about blue-collar, working-class, Catholic, Buffalo, New York, a town much like Dayton, Ohio in so many ways. He loves his immigrant families, especially his Polish Americans, and he writes with heart and humor about simpler times when confessions could make the world right again, and if not, Sister Mary Joseph would set you right whether you wanted it or not.
In his popular play Over the Tavern, produced by The Human Race Theatre Company in 2008, Dayton audiences met the Pazinskis in 1959, and laughed as Rudy and his family struggled with faith under the watchful eye of Sister Clarissa. In King o’ the Moon (Over the Tavern, Part II) he showcasedthe Pazinski clan ten years later as they struggled with faith in the turbulent 60s. The Last Mass at St. Casimir’s (Over the Tavern, Part III) takes place in the bar room almost a decade later, during the infamous Buffalo Blizzard of 1977.
Miracle on South Division Street follows in the same vein, a hilarious and heartfelt tribute to family, to faith, and to the human spirit. Change is in the air as playwright Tom Dudzick introduces audiences to a new family, the Nowaks, living amidst the urban rubble of Buffalo in the present day. The neighborhood is depressed, innocence is in short supply, but the Nowaks still preside over the neighborhood miracle. In 1942 the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in the barbershop run by their grandfather, and they still tend to the twenty-foot shrine built to commemorate the event which sits on the street next to their house! Peter Kramer of The Journal News called it, “A rollicking comedy where one revelation builds on another to an unexpected and thoroughly satisfying conclusion.”
I love a good comedy, and I love a good comedy with heart. We all need a dose of laughter now and then, and I pray that you will join us as we all experience together a Miracle on South Division Street.
–Richard E. Hess
Wendy Barrie-Wilson (Clara) is delighted to be back at HRTC, where she won a DayTony award for her performance as Sister Aloysius in Doubt. She also performed Doubt in Vienna for the European premiere, and received a SALT Award for subsequent performances. She has performed in over 100 plays—most recently as Mrs. Cotton in I Capture the Castle and Ma Joad in The Grapes of Wrath for Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey. Wendy appeared on Broadway in Our Town (with Paul Newman) and All My Sons, and has played leading roles in many regional theatre productions. TV credits include Law & Order, SVU and C.I., and The Guiding Light among others. Wendy is currently a Professor at Denison University where she teaches Acting. Wendy is also a potter.
Lauren Ashley Carter (Ruth) is a New York-based actor. Theater credits include Lewis Black’s One Slight Hitch (George Street Playhouse, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater), Any Given Monday (59E59 Theater), and Night Sky (Nagelberg Theatre). Film credits include David Koepp’s Premium Rush (starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Lucky McKee’s controversial The Woman (Sundance 2011), Jug Face (Slamdance 2013), and Pod (2015 Release). TV Credit: Law & Order: SVU (guest starring Debra Messing). She received her BFA in Dramatic Performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (2008).
Jennifer Joplin (Beverly) is always thrilled to come and play with The Human Race! Dayton audiences last saw Jen as Brooke Wyeth in Other Desert Cities. She is a proud member of Actors’ Equity, graduate of Wright State University and Development Associate at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. Originally from St. Louis, she has worked across the country as an actress, voice-over artist, producer and teacher. Some of her favorite roles include Annette in God of Carnage; Ruth in Tribes; Gwen in Rapture, Blister, Burn; Cleopatra in Anthony and Cleopatra; Catherine in Proof; Lenny in Crimes of the Heart; Bun in The Love Talker and Harper in Angels in America. She would like to thank Kevin and Tara for all they have done for her. It continues to be her honor to be a Resident Artist here at HRTC. Great thanks to Richard, who has directed her through some of her all-time favorite moments on stage. Her biggest thanks will always go to her family and friends, her husband, Jason and son, Max. It is their love and support that make all her dreams possible.
Kyle Nunn (Jimmy) is excited and thankful to be working with The Human Race Theatre Company for the first time. A native of Cincinnati, he has been living and working in NYC for the past six years. Recent credits include King Lear and The Three Musketeers with Hudson Valley Shakespeare and Dogg’s Hamlet with the Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. BFA in Drama from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Proud member of Actors’ Equity. Much love to family, Mo, and the Swag Boss.
Tom Dudzick (Playwright) is one of the few playwrights who makes a living at it. His first play, a Christmas tale called Greetings!, opened at New York’s John Houseman Theatre and starred Darren McGavin and Greg Edelman. It is now a holiday favorite across the country and has had well over one hundred productions. His next play, Over the Tavern, the first in a semi-autobiographical trilogy, has over two hundred productions under its belt, with many box office records broken throughout the U.S. The Irish adaptation, Over the Pub, also broke the box office record at Cork Arts Theatre in Ireland. Tom has written eight plays to date, most published by Playscripts, Inc. He was recently honored with a memorial plaque embedded in front of his boyhood home in Buffalo. And an even greater honor – he was once a question on Jeopardy! www.tomdudzick.com
Richard E. Hess (Director) is a proud Resident Artist with The Human Race Theatre Company. He has directed many productions for HRTC since 1994 including Race, Red, Doubt, Proof, The Drawer Boy, I Am My Own Wife, and A Delicate Balance. He has been Chair of the Drama Department at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) for the past twenty-one years, and just returned from teaching acting and directing at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya as a Fulbright Scholar. He is an Associate Member of SDC (Stage Directors and Choreographers Society).
Eric Moore (Scenic Designer) graduated from Wright State University’s Department of Theatre, Dance, and Motion Pictures with a degree in Design/Technology focused on Scenic Design and Scene Painting. Professional credits include Scenic Design for Footloose, The Wizard of Oz, and The Music Man with the Springfield Arts Council’s Summer Arts Festival. He is currently the Head Carpenter and Charge Artist for HRTC. Educational experience includes Rent and Picnic with Wright State University.
Kathie Brookfield (Costume Designer) is a Costume Designer/Technician with over 40 years of professional experience. She has designed and/or built costumes professionally for theatres in Wisconsin, Texas, Missouri, Utah, Tennessee, and Ohio. She served as the Costume Studio Manager at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music for over 23 years. As Costume Designer for The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati and ArtReach Touring Theatre for two seasons, she received three nominations for Best Costume Design from The League of Cincinnati Theatre for Suessical, Jr.; Santa’s Toy Factory; Annie, Jr.; an honorable mention for Willy Wonka, Jr. and received awards for both Suessical, Jr. and Annie, Jr. She is delighted for the opportunity to work with Richard Hess and the staff at The Human Race Theatre.
John Rensel (Lighting Designer) is the long-term Resident Lighting Designer for The Human Race Theatre Company, Muse Machine, the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra Pops series and Dayton Opera Association. He also serves as the long-time Technical Director for the Fraze Pavilion and has provided technical advance production coordination, lighting designs, automation programming and performance operation services for many artists and productions that have visited that venue. John also has a diverse dance lighting background, having provided lighting designs and technical production services for many years to The Dayton Ballet and Dayton Contemporary Dance Co. John’s national credits included a lighting design package for a National Touring Production of the Elton John/Tim Rice collaboration, Aida. Most recent local credits include all the designs for the 2013-14 Human Race Theatre Company’s season at The Loft Theatre; Muse Machine’s Summer Concert In Your Eyes, at the Victoria Theatre and the Dayton Opera Association’s 2013-14 season at the Schuster Center.
Brian Retterer (Sound Designer) is ecstatic to be back designing for HRTC! Previous HRTC shows include: Play It by Heart, Oliver!, Next to Normal, and It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play. He is a graduate of Ohio Northern University’s Communication Arts in International Theatre Production. While at ONU, Brian was the Head Sound Engineer/Designer at the Freed Center for the Performing Arts for five years. Some of his favorite shows he worked on while at ONU are: Waiting for the Parade, Little Women, The Magic Flute and All My Sons. Since school, Brian has also worked with students at Loveland High School, Norwood High School, and Centerville High School in various areas of technical theatre. Brian is currently system administrator at Real Art in Dayton. He would like to thank HRTC for these opportunities to continue working in the arts as well as his wonderful wife and family for their support through the years.
Kay Carver (Production Stage Manager) graduated from Wright State University’s Department of Theatre, Dance and Motion Pictures with a degree in Design/Technology and Stage Management. Her professional credits include Production Stage Manager for Play It by Heart, Other Desert Cities, Torch Song Trilogy, Fiddler on the Roof, Becky’s New Car, the 2013 Festival of New Musicals, HRTC’s 2012-2013 Loft season and MTW Dani Girl, Assistant Stage Manager for The Drowsy Chaperone and Tenderly: the Rosemary Clooney Musical and Production Assistant for Twelfth Night, The 39 Steps and Ordinary Days, all with The Human Race Theatre Company. She also served as the Production Stage Manager for the Wright State University/Dayton Philharmonic collaborative production of Bernstein’s Mass at the Schuster Center.