Belfry to show Midwest premiere of Dudzick play

From left: Diann Ryan (Clara), Becca Wenning (Ruth), Kelly BeDell (Beverly) and Stefan U.G. LeBlanc (Jimmy) play the dysfunctional but loving Nowak family in “Miracle on South Division Street.”

From left: Diann Ryan (Clara), Becca Wenning (Ruth), Kelly BeDell (Beverly) and Stefan U.G. LeBlanc (Jimmy) play the dysfunctional but loving Nowak family in “Miracle on South Division Street.”

Noblesville’s Belfry Theatre is making history – again – with another production from New York playwright Tom Dudzick. Beginning March 28, the Belfry will perform the Midwest premiere of “Miracle of South Division Street” for eight performances.

“I tend to be a fan of dramaties (dramatic comedies) – there’s truth, crying and a lot of comedy. In the end you feel good walking out the door,” Director Christy Clinton said. “I like plays with good characters and great lines that make me laugh when I’m reading it.”

In 1943, Ruth Nowak’s grandfather proclaimed his vision of the Blessed Mother and had a statue built to honor her in their Buffalo neighborhood. Nearly 60 years later, “Our Lady of South Division” remains, and the story of “The Miracle” has been passed down and recited by daughter, Clara Nowak, and her three children. Now, it seems that there might be more to the story, and Ruth wants to tell the world in a one-woman show. First, she knows she must tell her family, and hopefully get their blessings.

“This show is one that will draw the audience in. People can relate to it and more importantly, this show has deep rooted thoughts. It’s important to have a show with meaning and this is one,” said Becca Wenning, who plays Ruth.

Kelly BeDell, who plays Beverly, said the story is one that any family can appreciate.

“The very first time I read the script I was rolling on the floor laughing because it’s a comedy about a family. I could see my family coming across in something like this. I could see their reactions,” she said.

The Belfry is the second community theater to perform “Miracle on South Division Street” – the first being a playhouse in California. The play opened in May 2009 in Stony Point, N.Y. and the closest professional performance was in Pennsylvania. For the actors, the premiere gives them the chance to put their stamp on the characters.

“It’s very easy because it is an open door. You are the first. Your interpretation is the first one the audience will see. You get to bring it to life for the first time. It’s exciting but a little bit of pressure,” BeDell said.

“It’s your creation from the beginning. There are no preconceptions about the part. You discover the part on your own and as an actor that is always fun,” said Diann Ryan, who plays the family matriarch Clara.

Clinton has communicated with Dudzick for his insights to assist her and the actors with the play.

“There’s been a couple of parts I didn’t understand the choices he made. I get the flow from his vision as we rehearse. It’s great having that support. It’s an added dimension you don’t get otherwise,” she said.

“It’s been unique. With playwrights like Shakespeare you obviously can’t do this, this play is modern. He’s available and it’s really neat to ask the playwright, ‘What were you thinking about when you wrote this?’ He has the whole thing engraved in his brain. It’s interesting to have this process,” BeDell said.

The show will actually be completely unique as Dudzick sent a couple script changes to incorporate in Noblesville’s production.

“It’s fun to know we’re not just following the crowd. We’re bringing new things to the community,” Dudzick said. “You have to come here to see this. When people see it, they’ll want to do it because it’s good.”

“Miracle on South Division Street” by Tom Dudzick

Where: Belfry Theatre, 10690 Greenfield Ave., Noblesville

When: 8 p.m. March 28 and 29 and April 4,5, 11 and 12 and 2 p.m. April 6 and 13.

Cast: Diann Ryan (Clara), Becca Wenning (Ruth), Stefan U.G. LeBlanc (Jimmy) and Kelly BeDell (Beverly). Show hosts are Gavin Rulon and Michael Tooker.

Director: Christy Clinton

Tickets: $15 for adults, $12 for children 12 and younger

Info: 773-1085 or www.thebelfrytheatre.com

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