Published March 17, 2007 12:23 pm - ASHTABULA - -
The only thing missing from the set of "Over the Tavern" at the Ashtabula Arts Center is the smell of cigarette smoke wafting up the stairway into the Pazinski apartment and maybe the 'thump, thump, thump' of the jukebox that - - ...'Over the Tavern' will keep you Entertained
By ROGER SMITH
ASHTABULA - - The only thing missing from the set of "Over the Tavern" at the Ashtabula Arts Center is the smell of cigarette smoke wafting up the stairway into the Pazinski apartment and maybe the 'thump, thump, thump' of the jukebox that - - without a doubt - - pours out polka music in Chet's Bar and Grill below.
This fun little show that delves into the lineage of Catholic school troublemakers at St. Casimir's Parochial School in Buffalo is packed with laugh lines from start to finish. Playwright Tom Dudzick has found the right mix of family, faith and fun to keep an audience entertained for 2 1/2 hours.
Even though the show begins slowly, it livens up quickly as cast members find their footing. The foreboding nun in charge of religious education for the 7th graders is Sister Clarissa; that role is habited by Martha Sorohan, a seasoned AAC actor. Sister Clarissa is the only non-Pazinski in the script. However, her influence on three generations of Polish Catholics in her charge is evident. Sorohan gets it done with a mixture of love, determination, frustration and adeptly wielding the ruler.
Douglas Eric Anderson is cast in the role of Chet Pazinski, bar owner and father of the four children about whom the show revolves. Anderson's transition from an angry man who is overworked and saddled with an alcoholic father to someone who awakens to the needs of his own children is subtle and well done. Cast opposite Anderson as his wife, Ellen, is Kami English in her first experience with the theatre. English, though too soft-spoken, does a good job as the mother of the children; however, she could define Ellen's personality just a bit more.
The four youngsters in the show are talented students who seem to enjoy their roles. Bryan Gildone, cast in the role of Rudy Pazinski, is the child who gives Clarissa palpitations with his questioning of the Baltimore Catechism and God's reason for putting us on this planet. His look, his actions and his gestures are perfect. Unfortunately, Gildone does not speak loudly enough for everyone in the audience to hear his lines. Often, I had to imagine what he was saying.
Ryan Oatman as Eddie Pazinski has no difficulty in getting across his lines or his personality. He rebels against his father's abuse and leaves the house. I got the picture that in later years Eddie was probably a parish priest somewhere. Sara Ruane as Annie Pazinski personifies every uniform-wearing girl who ever rolled up her skirt waistband to make her skirt shorter while managing to get across in her character that awkward stage that young girls go through just before boys begin to notice them.
A very interesting character is that of Georgie, a differently abled child in the Pazinski family. Georgie, who has Asperger's Syndrome, is played by Blaise Beach. Beach does an outstanding job with his character, taking in all that goes on around him but giving out with his own 'colorful' evaluations.
If you grew up Catholic in the 50's or know someone who did, or if you just want some good laughs, then "Over the Tavern" is for you. Scheduled for a short run, this production continues tonight and Saturday night at 8. Tickets may be reserved by phoning the arts center at 440-964-3396.
Star Beacon Print Edition: 3/16/2007
Click here to order our 3/16/2007 Archive edition.