Review: Theatre at the Center’s ‘Making God Laugh’
By Betty Mohr Contributor May 9, 2012 5:42PM
Craig Spidle plays Jimmy in Theatre at the Center's "Making God Laugh," which also stars Erin Noel Grennan as Maddie. | Michael Brosilow photo
‘MAKING GOD LAUGH’
◆ Through June 10
◆ Theatre at the Center, 1040 Ridge Road, Munster
◆ Tickets, $38-$42
◆ (219) 836-3255; theatreatthecenter.com
Updated: June 12, 2012 8:07AM
For those tired of the harsh dysfunctional family productions that leave one depressed and which so many theaters love to mount, “Making God Laugh” is a gem of comic relief.
Written by Sean Grennan, and playing at Theatre at the Center in Munster through June 10, this new heartwarming comedy has everything going for it.
“Making God Laugh” has a dramatic and honest story of real people layered with a hoot of hilarity, yet the show is so meaningful that one has tears of joy by show’s end.
This play follows Jimmy and Ruthie as they celebrate holidays with their three children through three decades.
“Making God Laugh” begins on Thanksgiving 1980 as Richard, Maddie and Thomas arrive to celebrate the holiday.
The next time we see the family, it is Christmas 1990, and Richard talks about how real estate is the best investment because it always goes up and how he plans to invest in the dot-com miracle. That look back at predictions is hilarious — it’s a riot to hear how mistaken so many of us were about the future.
By the time we get to New Year’s Eve in 1999-2000, everyone has become older. Thomas is a priest; Maddie, who wanted to be an actress, is a teacher; and Richie is still trying to find himself.
The scene in which Richie prepares for the Y2K scare is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in theater in a long time.
He is convinced that at the stroke of midnight all the computers will break down, which will cause the end of civilization as we know it.
The final scene takes place in the present and is so poignant that one walks out of the theater with a soft spot in one’s heart for the show’s delightful characters.
Without a doubt, this is one of Grennan’s finest plays. In the past he has written somewhat cute comedies, but with “Making God Laugh,” he has come into his own with a moving story that combines laughter with serious humanity.
Of course, it helps that Bill Pullinsi, the master of directing human comedy, directed “Making God Laugh.”
Also, Angie Weber-Miller created a picture-perfect set design, and the cast couldn’t be better.
Peggy Roeder comes through with a terrific portrayal of mother Ruthie, and Craig Spidle is a pleasure in the part of Jimmy, the thoughtful dad.
Kevin McKillip is totally convincing as son Tom, and Erin Noel Grennan steals your heart as daughter Maddie.
But it’s Joe Foust who gets the best comedy moments as son Richie. Foust elevates the playwright’s dialogue into the kind of riotous scenes that had the audience doubled over in laughter.
“Making God Laugh” is such a moving and funny show that it would, indeed, make God laugh.