LJ youth has pivotal role in ‘Over the Tavern’

Religion can be a heart warming topic of conversation or the cause of world wars. In the North Coast Repertory Theatre’s newest production, “Over the Tavern,” the topic sets a course of discovery when a 1950s era family with diverse personalities struggles to get along in a cramped apartment. The West Coast Premiere of “Over the Tavern,” runs through July 12.

Playwright Tom Dudzick began his writing career in the 1980s after acting in dinner theatre comedies for more than a decade. “Over the Tavern,” a semi-fictionalized play based on his own upbringing, has garnered many awards and spawned follow up plays based on the Catholic religion.

The story centers around the Pazinski family of five. Rudy, played by La Jolla’s Ian Brininstool, is the driving force of the family’s metamorphosis about their Roman Catholic family values.

“Director David Ellenstein calls Rudy the brains of the operation, and my little brother, George (Thor Sigurdsson), who has downs syndrome, the personality of the show,” Brininstool said. “But there are conflicts that go on between all of the characters in this play.”

Rudy has some differences of opinion not only with his father (Matt Thompson) about religion, but also his teacher, Sister Clarissa (Lynne Griffin). She’s in for a real shock when he informs her he’d rather shop around for a more fun religion before he’s confirmed.

“I love playing Rudy; it’s a fun part,” Brininstool said. “Particularly the scenes with Sister Clarissa when she’s whacking me over the head with a ruler.”

Brininstool said it was easy to play part of a family because the four weeks of daily rehearsal helped draw the cast members closer together. The 13-year-old is no novice to acting. He’s taken singing, dancing and acting lessons, and is a member of the Screen Actors Guild. He’s been in musical productions since the age of four, made commercials, appeared in the feature film “Kid Billy vs. the Kidnappers” and many theatrical productions, sang with the opera and won several awards for his performances including Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical for “Oliver!”

Although heart-warming and funny “Over the Tavern,” is about conflicts, and the well- rounded youth who hopes to attend NYU and make acting his career, welcomed that challenge.

“My character is a lot like the real me. Rudy is upbeat and outgoing when his father is not around,” Brininstool said. “That’s because he’s pretty much a grouch throughout the play. So when we appear together, Rudy becomes shy and sad, and that can be difficult to suddenly make that switch. But the play is very funny, and I think families will enjoy it.”

‘Over the Tavern’

  • Through July 12
  • North Coast Repertory Theatre
  • 987 Lomas Santa Fe Drive, Solana Beach
  • (858) 481-1055