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St. Bonaventure University

St. Bonaventure’s SBU Theater to present Dudzick’s comedy ‘Miracle on South Division Street’

Oct 26, 2023

The cast of "Miracle on South Division Street"SBU Theater, the theater program at St. Bonaventure University, will present Tom Dudzick’s hit comedy “Miracle on South Division Street” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 2-4, at the university’s Garret Theater on campus. A special matinee performance will be presented at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4. 

Playwright Dudzick is probably most famous for the “Over the Tavern” trilogy, a semi-fictional trio of comedies based on his early family years in Buffalo, which have broken box office records across the country, said Dr. Ed. Simone, professor of theater and SBU Theater director.

“This play is a sweet, heartfelt comedy that tells a fictional story based on actual events,” Simone said. “Its origins, to quote Dudzick, are ‘back in busy, bustling 1950s Buffalo, a block and a half from my father’s tavern,’ where there was a barbershop. Next to the barbershop was a shrine to the Blessed Virgin Mary — a beautiful life-sized statue encased in wood, brick, and glass.”

The barber commissioned the statue because he claimed the Blessed Mother had appeared to him in his shop to give him a message about world peace. The church never officially recognized the vision or the statue, but it was preserved in the neighborhood, even after urban renewal, and is still there.

Dudzick visited the shrine in the early 2000s and wrote of the experience: “I stood before the shrine — newly Windexed, freshly flowered, its mail slot still active with donations and requests for miracles — and I thought to myself, there’s a story here. The real-life details of its origin were forever buried with the barber, so I needed to invent a family.”

That family is the Nowaks. Clara, the barber’s daughter, played by SBU Theater veteran Joscelyn Jackson, devotedly tends the shrine and the old barber shop, now converted to a soup kitchen for the poor. But her daughter Ruth, portrayed by returning SBU Theater actor Caitlyn Williams, has secrets about the family history. When brother Jimmy and sister Beverly, played by SBU Theater first-timers Dominik Vaughn and Keeley Reiford, stop by Mom’s on Christmas Eve, those secrets are revealed.

“Dudzick has a genuine connection with the families of Buffalo’s old neighborhoods. He gives these colorful characters real depth,” Simone said.

This production of “Miracle on South Division Street” is designed by Janell Clingenpeel, assistant professor of theater.

“The show has been a delight to work on,” Clingenpeel said. “At the center of it all is a family that loves one another, and our cast has come together in their own little makeshift family. It’s been fun to see the cast and crew really come together.”

Added Simone, “The cast and crew are a true ensemble, working together to create real family energy in a delightful holiday comedy. And Janell has created Clara Nowak’s vintage kitchen in loving detail.” 

Tickets for the performance are $8 for the public, $6 for students, senior citizens and St. Bonaventure employees. To reserve tickets, call the box office at (716) 375-2494.

Garret Theater is located adjacent to Devereux Hall on the St. Bonaventure campus.


About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University is a community committed to transforming the lives of our students inside and outside the classroom, inspiring in them a lifelong commitment to service and citizenship. Out of 167 regional universities in the North, St. Bonaventure was ranked #6 for value and #14 for innovation by U.S. News and World Report (2024).