By Michelle F. Solomon, FloridaTheaterOnStage.com, Special to EyesOnNews.com, Dec 19, 2014 – As holiday plays go, original offerings are a) the tried and true traditionals, a la A Christmas Carol and It’s A Wonderful Life b) new plays that try too hard, Santaland Diaries or c) something truly original. Something truly original is usually not the norm. But at Actor’s Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, a miracle of holiday comedy has emerged. Tom Dudzick’s Miracle on South Division Street has all the makings to become a perennial holiday comedy favorite and the production that’s been put together in the cozy balcony theater at the Playhouse boosts its appeal even further.
Growing up in any number of northeast U.S. towns, you’re bound to have memories of a family like the Nowaks, the Polish-American clan at the center of Miracle who just happen to inhabit Buffalo, yet could live in any working class neighborhood.
Clara Nowak (Elizabeth Dimon) is the matriarch — ordinary, perhaps, but she and her three grown children, Jimmy (Clay Cartland), Ruth (Deborah L. Sherman) and Beverly (Jeni Hacker) have been “blessed” with a gift left to them by Clara’s father.
They are keepers of a 20-foot-tall shrine, a sculpture commissioned by her Polish refugee dad during World War II. The owner of a barber shop claimed he saw a vision of the Virgin and had the statue built and shipped. It sits just outside the Nowak family’s house and for six decades it has attracted attention from people who leave messages and coins.