The average family doesn’t have a 20-foot shrine commemorating a miracle in front of their business. But who said the Nowak family was average?
“The Miracle on South Division Street”, which opens next week at Invisible Theatre, follows the quirky story of the Nowaks. They have had a visit from the Virgin Mary, run a barbershop, and a soup kitchen that some say dishes up healing subsistence.
In the crumbling neighborhood of Buffalo, N.Y., that oversized shrine commemorates the fateful day from decades past when Clara Nowak’s father had a vision of the Virgin Mary in his barbershop.
“Their whole life the family has been told they’re special and a miracle has happened to them, even though the event is not recognized by the church,” said director Gail Fitzhugh.
“Clara really feels they are blessed and has made it her personal mission to maintain the shrine and opened a soup kitchen to whoever is hungry and in need of it.”
As the play begins, Clara and her three adult children meet to discuss the miracle. One of the daughters, Ruth, has a new interest in writing and decides to base her first play on that Virgin Mary visitation. But the revelation of a deathbed confession threatens Ruth’s dream, and all that the family has come to believe.
In Tom Dudzick’s comedy, family secrets and comedic events are twisted together. Laughs are there, said Fitzhugh. But there’s more.
“They are all very interesting characters. They are working class people and the play itself really deals with family, faith, and sometimes lack of, and the lies we believe,” said Fitzhugh.
“It’s about what it is we believe and how we can change and adjust to surprises in life. It is very funny and very inclusive, really heartfelt.”