Ruthie forces an enthusiastic hug on her son Thomas. The family’s saga is played out on stage throughout May at Marathon Community Theatre.

When the curtain goes up on “Making God Laugh,” theatre-goers will find plenty to make them chuckle, and many poignant moments that may lead to surreptitious wiping of the eyes. 

“The first time I picked up the play, I read it cover to cover in one sitting,” said director Diane Dashevsky. “I just fell in love with it.”

“Making God Laugh” opens on Marathon Community Theatre’s mainstage on Thursday, May 9 and runs through May 25 from Thursday to Saturday nights, with one matinee on May 19. It’s a limited engagement with only 10 performances. And yet the play, authored by Sean Grennan, follows a family of five over the course of about four decades, starting in the ’80s. 

“Each scene is a different holiday,” said producer Karen Witte, “Thanksgiving, Christmas … well, you’ll just have to come and see.”

Yep, there’s rich material here with mentions of Enron, Y2K hysteria, and a silly little start-up called “Google.” For audience members who have lived through the era, it brings back fond memories – in hindsight, of course – of everything from terrible cars to bad investments.

The play features an ensemble cast. Jerry Nussenblatt plays the lovable dad, Bill, a kindly counterpart to the anxious Ruthie, played by Joanne Zimmerman. The “kids” are Richard, the larger-than-life eldest (Brian Witte); Maddie, the prickly middle child (Michele Licause); and Thomas, the youngest, in the grips of terrible existential dilemma (Alex Rickert, who is also a Weekly freelancer). 

Jerry Nussenblatt, left, Joanne Zimmerman, Michelle Licause and Brian Witte rehearse ‘Making God Laugh.’ SARA MATTHIS/Keys Weekly

“The plays reminds me of people in my own family. Ruthie is my ex-mother-in-law to a T,” said Dashevsky. “And it reminded me of my own brothers and a cousin. It struck a chord with me.”

Every actor has their moment to shine, over the course of four decades and four scenes. During the set changes, audiences will be treated to a slide show on a descending white screen because aging the actors takes time (pun intended) while they are offstage.

While this is Dashevsky’s first turn as a director, she and her late husband Ed were heavily involved with the theatre since retiring here in 2012. He was the light technician for every show during MCT’s 2016-2017 season, and she was stage manager for every show except one during the same period. Before he succumbed, Ed was informed by theater friends that the light booth was formally named after him. This is not the retirement that Diane and Ed planned. And that’s okay, too.

“In the final scene of the play, the kids come to realize that things didn’t turn out the way that they expected, but the most important thing is family and being supportive and loving of each other. They let the years of squabbles and the hurts get in the way of saying ‘I’m sorry,’ and “I do love you,’” Diane said. “And I think that’s a good message.”

For tickets, visit marathontheater.org or call 305-743-0994. Curtain is at 8 p.m. (except matinee at 3 p.m.) and tickets are $25 each.

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