Stage comedy comes to downtown Tucson

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Arizona Daily Wildcat

Photo courtesy of Tim Fuller

Sibling rivalry reigns supreme in this rollicking comedy with Ruth (Carley Elizabeth Preston), Bev (Alida Holguin Gunn)
and Jimmy (Seth Fowler).

A local theater aims to bring a miracle to Tucson this month that everyone can connect with.

“Miracle on South Division Street” will be the second production of the 2013-2014 season for Tucson’s Invisible Theatre, and the season’s first comedy.

Written by Tom Dudzick, the production takes place in Buffalo, N.Y., in a working class neighborhood. The story follows the Nowak family, a Catholic bunch whose family barbershop has long been said to be located on holy ground, since Grandpa Nowak saw a vision of the Virgin Mary decades ago. But things begin to unravel when the truth about the vision gets out.

For Susan Claassen, the theater’s managing artistic director, the play epitomizes the types of productions that the Invisible Theatre likes to bring to Tucson — ones that aren’t the typical production.

“We look for plays that speak to us, that have different themes and theatrical styles,” Claassen said, adding that the theater chooses plays that have never been shown in Tucson before, which includes “Miracle on South Division Street” is given its name from the invisible artistic energy that is said to be shared between audience members and performers.

“I think everyone can relate on some level to it,” Claassen said. “We hope that people can relate to it and look at the world a little differently.”

Calling it a “comedy with heart,” Claassen said “Miracle on South Division Street” will simultaneously tug on the heart-strings of audience members while making them laugh. The show stars Toni Press-Coffman, Alida Holguin Gunn, Carley Elizabeth Preston and UA business management senior Seth Fowler.

Even with no formal training in acting, Fowler said he loves telling stories in all forms, adding that he performed in his first show last spring and fell in love with the experience.

“I just wanted to be a part of the storytelling process because it’s so powerful,” he said. “It’s been a blast so far.”

Fowler will be playing the character of Jimmy, a genuine, down-to-Earth man who is the youngest sibling in a family of four.

“I hope [the audience will] fall in love with the characters the same way I have,” Fowler said.

“Miracle on South Division Street” has relatable themes of faith, belief, adaptation to change and family secrets,” said Gail Fitzhugh, the play’s director.

“It’s absolutely a character-driven comedy,” she said. “Everybody has different secrets and different things at stake. I think the universality of it is in the family dysfunction.”

The primary goal with the production, Fitzhugh said, is to allow every member of the audience to find something they can identify with.

“The audience is such an intricate part of the comedy,” Fitzhugh said. “I hope they’re able to relate to the themes.”

Follow Casey Knox @Knox_Casey


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