North Coast Repertory Theatre rolls out the comedy hit ‘King O’ The Moon’ penned by ‘the Catholic Neil Simon’ Tom Dudzik
By Diana Saenger
Tom Dudzick is a busy playwright. His trilogy about family life rings true with audiences, and includes humorous scenarios and heart-tugging situations that keep it on theater marquees across the country. In 2009, North Coast Repertory Theatre staged his first installment, “Over the Tavern.” The second, “King O’ The Moon,” has its west coast premiere at NCRT beginning April 13. (Part three, “The Last Mass at St. Casimir’s,” will hopefully come to NCRT sometime down the line.)
“Over the Tavern,” based on Dudzick’s own upbringing, centers around the Pazinski family of five in the 1950s who live above a tavern but maintain their Catholic family values. “King O’ The Moon,” is set 10 years later in the chaotic 1960s when life in America has changed and the family must deal with weighty issues like divorce, remarriage, war and draft-evasion. Dubbed by many theater critics as “the Catholic Neil Simon,” Dudzick and his plays have broken box office records across the Midwest.
Matt Thompson, a frequent artist at NCRT both as an actor and director, directs “King O’ The Moon.” He played the father in “Over the Tavern” and NCRT Artistic Director David Ellenstein said he thought Thompson would be perfect to direct “part two.”
“Since I understood the family dynamics and the characters, David thought that made sense, so I agreed,” Thompson said.
The cast includes Kandis Chappell (“Collected Stories”) as Ellen, Julian Conrad (“Twelfth Night”) as Georgie, Kevin Koppman-Gue (“The History Boys”) as Rudy, Ross Hellwig (“The Rainmaker”) as Eddie, John Herzog (“The Tempest”) as Walter, Sunny Smith (“Smokey Joe’s Café”) as Maureen, and Krysten Hafso (“Rebels”) as Annie.
“Kandis, as the mother of the family, is a seasoned actor who has performed all over San Diego and is a joy to work with,” said Thompson. “She and John (the family’s long-time employee) get along well together. Kevin, who has been doing a lot of work, is only 20 years old and played the boy in the Rep’s recent play “The Drawer Boy.” And we have some new actors to the Rep, like my wife Sunny who plays Eddie’s wife. She does a great job. We’ve directed each other before, and we work well together. Georgie is back as a 22-year-old man and Conrad plays him well.”
Because of the serious issues facing the characters, parents might want to leave kids ages 12 and under at home. One of those issues is the Vietnam War. A topic, Thompson said, audiences might relate to.
“There’s a good parallel here because of the war we’re involved in right now,” he said. “The play touches on some of the horrors of war, and hopefully, the audience will be able to respond to that. This play was written in 1998, but it’s art imitating life. It really gets to the salt of the Earth … who humanity really is. You look at these characters on stage and you recognize yourself or somebody you know.”
If you go
What: “King O’ The Moon,” sequel to “Over the Tavern”
When: 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Sundays, 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, some 2 p.m. weekends, through May 8
Where: North Coast Repertory Theatre, 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
Tickets: $30-$47. Student rush $15 for empty seats 10 minutes before show time.
Contact: (858) 481-1055
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