by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Meggie Foster-McCann, left, plays Ruth in the Wilsonville Theater Companys production of Miracle on South Division Street, which opens Thursday at the Frog Pond Grange Hall. Every family has its share of secrets. And the Nowack family certainly is no exception.

Residents of Buffalo, New York, the Nowacks are a family of devout Catholics who are keepers of a 17-foot-tall shrine to the Virgin Mary. The statue towers over the rundown neighborhood they live in and marks the moment when the Blessed Virgin supposedly appeared to Grandfather Nowack in a vision he had in the family barbershop.

The family’s store forms the basis for “Miracle on South Division Street,” a Wilsonville Theater Company stage production written by Tom Dudzick that opens Friday at the Frog Pond Grange Hall on Stafford Road.

Based on a true story that happened just a few blocks from a tavern Dudzick’s father ran in Buffalo, the play details a complex story of family and the secrets everyone keeps.

Set in 2010, “Miracle on South Division Street” highlights the lives of Grandpa Nowack’s daughter, Clara, and her three grown children, Bev, Ruth and Danny. The shrine has been drawing wishes, dreams and donations from visitors for the past 50 years and forms a deep part of the family’s identity.

“Clara is an old Polish Catholic lady, she has a strong belief in Catholicism and deeply loves her children,” said Sherwood resident Patricia Distler, who stars as the family matriarch. “But she can be emotional and volatile.

Meggie Foster-McCann and Lindzay Irving, both of Willsonville, play daughters Ruth and Bev, while Mitchell Lenneville of Tualatin has thrown himself into the role of Clara’s son, Jimmy. Wilsonville resident Kate Laney is the director.

“Jimmy is a 20-something, he’s a peacekeeper in the family,” said Lenneville. “We live in a loud family and for Jimmy, really, family is the most important thing. But he also sees the world though rose-colored glasses.”

One by one, the family reveals its hidden stories and secrets with one another. The plot twists one way and turns sharply another as Dudzick throws surprise after surprise at viewers.

“It’s a little bit of a bomb after a bomb after a bomb,” Lenneville said.

Foster-McCann’s character, Ruth, holds a special burden: Years ago her grandmother told her the truth behind the shrine and swore her to secrecy.

“I’m the one who doesn’t fit in the family,” Foster-McCann said. “She wants to go to New York City to pursue acting, and I’m also the one with all the secrets. I’m the one Grandma told the truth to, so I’m the one who has to spill the beans to everyone. And along with the family secrets I also have my own personal secrets as well.”

All of that is revealed as the play progresses. The viewer, however, knows only the barest details at first.

by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Patricia Distler, left, plays Clara, the Nowack family matriarch, while Mitchell Lenneville, right, plays her son Jimmy. “(Clara) has a strong belief in a miracle that supposedly happened in her father’s barbershop,” Distler said. “Her father had a vision. A Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to her father in his barbershop when she was very small and they built a shrine. People come and pray to the statue and put money in the mail slot and notes asking for miracles. The whole family has built their lives around this belief, and Clara, especially, has a strong belief in this miracle.”

Evening performances are scheduled for Oct. 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19 with shows starting at 7 p.m. There will be matinee performances on Oct. 5, 12 and 18 with shows at 2 p.m. Frog Pond Grange Hall is located at 27350 SW Stafford Road.

Tickets are $8 for students and seniors, $10 general admission. Tickets are available at the door, at Wilsonville Fred Meyer or at

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