|Maggie Gilkes (center) keeping the peace as mother Clara,|
in between daughters Ruth (Katie Bigwood, left) and Beverly (Kristi Schwartz, right)
As Sheryl Crow sang, “Making miracles is hard work. Most people give up before they happen.” Miracle on South Division Street is about a hard-working family that makes the most of its own miracle. The Nowak family legend began when Grandpa witnessed a holy vision right in his barbershop, which inspired a commemorative shrine on his property that gave the family its identity. In the Farmington Players production of Miracle, Maggie Gilkes plays the kind-hearted family matriarch Clara Nowak, who runs a neighborhood soup kitchen and offers “healing soup” prepared on “holy ground.” But when the family gathers to discuss daughter Ruth’s plans to write a play about that family miracle, a deathbed confession shakes their faith to its core.
Playing a mother is familiar territory to Maggie: In addition to playing Mother Superior, a nun and widow in Doubt at SRO in 2009, Maggie says that her real life experience as a mom should make Clara “a natural part for me. I have two daughters and five grandchildren. This means being true and honest to the part you are playing.” Adding to the realism, Maggie’s own daughter Katie Bigwood plays Clara’s daughter Ruth in the play!
This happy accident came together rather fortuitously. As Maggie, says, “As for a mother/daughter playing together, I had never thought in a million years that this would happen. Katie came to read with me at an early audition because I was in a show when the open auditions were being held. It was very comfortable at auditions having Katie on stage with me. On the way home we were talking in the car about how good it felt, how natural it felt, and how it had given Katie the ‘bug’ to be on stage.” Director Sue Rogers also saw how natural mom and daughter were together on stage, and was glad to cast them together.
Maggie has high regard for Sue’s directorial abilities, saying, “Having Sue as a director is proving to be a wonderful experience. She knows what she wants and is very articulate in her actions. Very knowledgeable, with a clear vision of the show.” Maggie believes that “this show will warm everyone's heart, they will see people they know as far back as their own childhood.” In addition to Katie as daughter Ruth, Maggie’s stage “family” includes Kristi Schwartz as daughter Beverly and Michael Soave as son Jimmy. Like any family, they quarrel and kibitz and interrupt one another constantly, but the underlying love is always apparent. As Maggie says, “This play is a true life drama/comedy. It is the everyday life of a close-knit family. I can relate to this in that I am one of six kids, and yes, we still all get together and we all get along very well. Even to the point of traveling together.”
Maggie’s husband of 41 years (Dave) and family are long time residents in the Farmington area. She recently retired after working the past 12 years as a dealer at Greektown Casino, and she now fills her time with grandkids, building the sets at Two Muses Theatre and set dressing at the Barn.
The Farmington Players' production of Miracle on South Division Street opens February 13 and runs through February 28. The show is proudly sponsored by Varsity Automotive Group. Tickets can be purchased online at www.farmingtonplayers.org or by calling the box office at 248-553-2955