BWW Interview: Playwright Tom Dudzick of CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN at MusicalFare, Buffalo, NY

BWW Interview: Playwright Tom Dudzick of CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN  at MusicalFare, Buffalo, NYTom Dudzick interview for BroadwayWorld.com

Playwright Tom Dudzick's enormously popular play "Over the Tavern," was a semi-fictional comedy based on his early family years in Buffalo, NY. The play broke box office records all over the country, in its two hundred productions. Now, Dudzick has adapted his beloved play into a new musical. He recently sat down with BWW.com during rehearsals for the play's premier at Buffalo's MusicalFare Theater.

So what made you decide to musicalize your play?

I didn't exactly musicalize the play. I musicalized the Pazinskis, the family in the play. It's a totally original story that takes place two months after "Over the Tavern's" curtain comes down. For years I wanted to do something with this family at Christmas because that holiday is so important to kids. I thought maybe a children's book, maybe another play... but nothing was grabbing me.

We all know you as a playwright, but are you a composer as well?

Yes, I wrote musicals when I first started out in theatre in the 70's and I kept my love for songwriting. So suddenly it hit me, OMG, a musical about these kids over the tavern. See, when I was 5 years old I used to pick out melodies on the piano downstairs in my father's barroom. So they moved the piano upstairs and my mother signed me up for lessons. Piano got me into college (it certainly wasn't my grades) and that's where I learned about composing.

BWW Interview: Playwright Tom Dudzick of CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN  at MusicalFare, Buffalo, NY

Have you had to make any significant changes to the story?

I know these characters so well that the initial story outline came pretty quickly. Chet, the crabby bartender, was the ideal candidate for a mid-life depression, and so that's what he gets and that's what starts all the trouble. He's had it up to here with Christmas and he refuses to get a Christmas tree, which sends the whole family into a turmoil.

Is the musical something the entire family can come to see?

Let's put it this way, I wouldn't want to be the first one in history to write an adults only Christmas story. Yes indeed, bring the kids!

BWW Interview: Playwright Tom Dudzick of CHRISTMAS OVER THE TAVERN  at MusicalFare, Buffalo, NY

Buffalo is near and dear to your heart, is that why you chose to premier the musical here?

Yes, Buffalo was a natural. I knew some theatre there would be amenable to hosting the premiere. And there's a theatre, MusicalFare, that does nothing but musicals so I ran the idea past them and they bit. First they did a workshop to see if it had "legs" and so that I could learn what work still needed to be done on the script and score. Once we determined it was a worthwhile project I went home and rewrote for another year.

Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

Yes, if anyone was wondering if 12-year-old Rudy's nemesis, the formidable Sister Clarissa, is in the show, indeed she is. So on top of an anti-Christmas father, Rudy's 7th grade nun wants to pull the plug on his Nativity Scene presentation. Rudy wants it to be a one-man show where he'd play all the characters himself. But he'd play them as TV celebrities: Ed Sullivan, Groucho Marx, the 3 Stooges, Jack Benny. I'm loving rehearsals, laughing hysterically at this kid doing Joseph as Groucho. "One morning I shot three wise men in my pajamas. How they got in my pajamas I don't know."

When / where is the show running and how do folks get tickets?

It's at MusicalFare (http://www.musicalfare.com) and the show runs November 14 through Dec. 15th. Tickets are selling so fast they're starting to put in some extra performances. So hurry!

BroadwayWorld.com would like to thank Tom Dudzick for taking the time to chat with us and we wish him great success with his new musical.

-Peter Danish

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From This Author Peter Danish

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