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Over the Tavern

Pictured are Janet Ulrich Brooks as Sister Clarissa and Logan Baffico as Rudy in Theatre at the Center's production of "Over The Tavern."

A heartwarming comedy is gracing the stage of Theatre at the Center.

"Over the Tavern," by Tom Dudzick, runs through Aug. 11 at the Munster theater.

Director Erika Mac believes audience members will easily relate to various situations in this comedic play. While the show is set in 1959 and revolves around a Catholic family, Mac said many people will find much to relate to in the show.

"Everyone can relate in some way to being part of a family," Mac said. She added that when Theatre at the Center artistic director Linda Fortunato approached her to direct the show earlier this year, she said she was excited to take on the project.

The story, she explained, was something she personally could relate to.

"It's about a Polish Roman Catholic family in 1959 and I'm from a Polish Catholic family," she said. "I went to Catholic school from kindergarten to third grade. And my dad grew up going to Catholic school." Mac said even though she didn't attend Catholic school for all of her school years, she listened to the stories her father would tell about the nuns and lessons learned there.

"He has a lot of funny stories," Mac said.

In the show, Mac said, character Rudy, who is 12 and about to be confirmed, begins to question the rules of the church. Throughout the production, audiences watch as Rudy and his family explore and question those "rules" and endure the struggles of every day life.

Mac said the play also brings up the fact that Rudy wonders how the rules can be bent and shaped to suit him.

"The play) is also about struggling to accept the rules, learning when it's ok to bend them or change the rules," she said.

Mac said audience members will easily see their own family dynamics and relationships when watching the production.

"There are also many fun references (to the time period and culture)," Mac said, adding there's a segment which comically brings up "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Mac, who has worked as an actor, singer and dancer, said most of her directing has been in musical theater. "Over the Tavern" is the first play she's directing that's not a musical.

The director called Theatre at the Center "a unique theater space" that is perfect for "Over the Tavern."

Starring in "Over the Tavern" are Janet Ulrich Brooks as Sister Clarissa, Logan Baffico as Rudy, Cory Goodrich as Ellen, Isabelle Roberts as Annie, Eric Slater as Chet, Julian Solis as Georgie and Seth Steinberg as Eddie.

Mac hopes audience members leave the show feeling "uplifted."

"It's a really beautiful story about connecting with your family," she said.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.