Tracey Swintak, Shelly Pidsadny, Caroline Pasieczka with Sister Janet Kozak (Martin Pasieczka)
"If your heart's set a flutter, smelling onions in butter, can one more perogy supper be so bad?"
Who could say "no" to a plate of perogies? Apparently Winnipegers can't. Danny Schur's musical comedy The Perogy Supper Miracle will be staged once again on November 5th.
It's the story of a parish threatened by the potential cancellation of its perogy supper fundraisers. Fittingly, this performance is being presented as a fundraiser in support of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, Provincial Council.
The show was initially meant to be a one-off production to raise funds for his own church. But the show took off and has been performed across the country with performances scheduled for the United States, as well.
Not surprisingly, the characters include a priest and a nun. Surprisingly, Danny Schur wrote the part of the nun for an actual nun. In fact, Sister Janet Kozak plays herself in the production.
SCENE wanted to find out more about this nun-turned-musical star:
1. Do you come across stereotypes about what you "should" be as a nun?
I am faced with this all the time as perceptions of Religious Life vary among people as well as their expectations. The stereotype that a nun should be "holy", for example, means different things to different people. What I think is holy is most likely different than what you might think.
I am human and imperfect - just like everyone else. My life is full and fast paced. I look more at the agenda calendar on my desk than the Bible close to my heart. But I like to break out of the traditional stereotypical roles of Sisters with the hope that I can just be myself - a woman who gave her heart to Jesus Christ who chose to follow him where ever He leads. And if He leads me onto the dance floor to dance a fast polka or slow waltz, then that is where you will find me.
2. What was your reaction when Danny Schur said he wanted to write you into his musical?
Honoured and thrilled, then scared and insecure. I remember writing him an email after our very first practice, saying that he has the wrong person, maybe he should find someone else. His response was so affirming that I had to say yes. I trust him because he believes in me. I am still delightfully amazed at his confidence in me which gives me the courage to perform.
3. How much of YOU is in your character?
Too much! Danny wrote the character with me in mind - so it truly is "me to a tee". I sing all the time and always try to help a friend, offering advice or an encouraging word. What you see is what you get.
4. What is it like to play yourself on stage?
I feel quite comfortable playing myself on stage - it's only natural. However I would be more comfortable in having the freedom to improve, but Danny is a stickler to following the texts exactly which helps to keep me "in line".
5. What is the most challenging part about playing yourself?
Because this role is so much my personality, I wonder if it reveals too much information that I wouldn't normally reveal to any audience. It makes me feel vulnerable. Believe it or not sometimes I get shy, though people laugh when they here that.
6. What is your favourite moment?
My most profound moment is the song "We seek thee God" - it is difficult for me to make it through the song without being overcome with emotion. My favourite humorous moment is when Father is talking about parish perogy suppers, where no one ever gets sick because there is always a "Baba on the beat" ready to blast any fly that ever dares to come near. So true, so true!
7. Do you feel you're at risk of becoming a diva?
What do mean "becoming"?. . . too late! However I have many friends and situations that keep me honest. Thank God for grace.
8. What is your own secret to making perogies (if you do make them, that is)?
I've pinched a few perogies in my time, and the secret to any good Ukrainian meal is fried onions - in this case onions mixed with the potato inside with perogy, then lots of onions smothered on top with generous portions of sour cream. To quote from the show,"If your heart's a flutter, smelling onions and butter, is one more perogy so bad?"
The Perogy Supper Miracle takes place Saturday, November 5th at Holy Eucharist Parish. Tickets are $60 and include - you guessed it - a perogy dinner. The deadline to purchase tickets is Thursday, Nov. 3rd.
Listen to Miracle sung by Sister Janet and Taras Luchak: