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Mike Dudzick, model for Over The Tavern character

Mike Dudzick, brother of playwright Tom Dudzick, died this week. In a simple and affecting email message, Tom suggested “his passing might mean something to the Buffalo theatrical world because he was the person on whom I modeled that beloved character ‘Georgie Pazinski,’ the “mentally retarded kid in all three Over the Tavern plays. He was also the model for ‘Mickey’ in my Christmas play Greetings!

Mike and Tom Dudzick.

All of these plays were produced at Studio Arena Theatre.

“Mike was born with Down Syndrome and he was a great gift to us Dudzicks,” continued Tom. “We didn’t have to go through the process of learning tolerance and acceptance of those ‘different’ from us—because Mike was there from day one we simply were tolerant; there was just no other way to be. And it served us greatly all our lives.

“Mike was 60 [years old] and a resident of a group home run by the Cantalician Center. He attended their school and workshops all his life. Michael was quite a figure in Buffalo. It seems that everyone knew him because my father, Joseph ‘Big Joe’ Dudzick, former Councilman-at-Large, took him everywhere with him, on visits official and non-official. Everyone knew Mike.”

The great affection that the Dudzick family had for Mike and their comfort with his disability was apparent in Tom’s plays, which viewed the antics of “Georgie” with wonderful humor and warmth. Like all the family relationships in the Over the Tavern plays, the stories of Georgie surely helped others understand, appreciate, and enjoy the charm and individuality of people with Down Syndrome.