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Nov 22, 2018, 15:49
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Through December 16 (all sold out)
CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN Daemen College/MusicalFare Theatre

Tom Dudzick dragged out the nun with the wielded ruler again for “Christmas Over the Tavern.”
Since I once covered a criminal hearing about a nun who hit a student with a ruler, I know it actually happened.
Well, also hearing it from kids who were hit.
Dudzick is again taking us back to that little segment of Polonia within sight of City Hall and the Liberty Bank Building, where the Pazinskis are again struggling with family problems and the possibility their whole neighborhood will be leveled for the Niagara Section of the State Thruway.
Son Rudy (Michael Scime) is still the obnoxious but loveable critic of his Catholic religion who wants to be a comedian.
That includes proposed stand-up comedy for the church Christmas pageant.
Aging Sister Clarissa (Pamela Rose Mangus) is tired of Rudy’s attempt to be funny and irreligious.
Dad Chet (Jacob Albarella) is worn out and driving customers away and worrying he will lose the bar to the expressway.
Mom Ellen (Wendy Hall) is exhausted from propping up Chet, taking care of the house above the bar, dealing with daughter Annie (Caroline Schettler) who’s 16 and at that age and taking care of son Georgie (Isaac Fensmire), who is mentally impaired.
Even a really strong family might weaken under all of the pressures in the Pazinski family.
What is different about this latest Dudzick confection is that it’s a musical, book, lyrics and music by him.
The music isn’t wonderful but it gets better as the show goes along.
Some of it might appeal to everyone on the street, “If I Hear One More Christmas Song,” from Chet or Rudy’s brain, with “Why Can’t It Be Like On TV?”
The Pazinski kids are aware things aren’t going well, especially between their parents, but still just want to get through the holidays although Chet won’t allow a Christmas tree.
The story works out and the audience the night I saw the show appeared to really like it.
A couple of pros, Hall and Mangus, hold it all together.
Hall’s Mom and Mangus’ Sister Clarissa are the pivots for the show.
Oh. Rudy is the flash and dash of the show, but the nun tries to control him and Chet and also support herself, especially with “Get Happy.”
Director Randall Kramer and choreographer John Fredo have also put some interesting dance moves in the show, particularly from Albarella.
And, there is one good dance number from Fensmire’s Georgie, in a dream.
Dyan Burlingame kicks in an effective set of the Pazinski apartment “over the tavern.”
Dudzick is trying to deal with a real family with real problems, substantive real problems and not some TV sitcom family with jokeable problems.
Should this be the last episode of “Over the Tavern?” Probably.
There are hard times coming for the Pazinskis and some surprises, but Dudzick has already been there.
Just take this as a sort of successful attempt at a Christmas souffle and enjoy a trip out to MusicalFare for “Christmas Over the Tavern.”


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