|Katie Bigwood (Ruth) and Maggie Gilkes (Clara) share a special mother-daughter bond onstage and off in Miracle|
Mothers and daughters have a special bond in life. As author Victoria Secunda has written, “A daughter is a mother's gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters' role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships.” So when art imitates life, and a mother and daughter get to play out their real-life roles on stage, it can truly be – dare I say – miraculous!
Such is the case for Katie (Gilkes) Bigwood and Maggie Gilkes, who are playing daughter Ruth Nowak and mother Clara Nowak in Miracle on South Division Street at the Farmington Players. Katie describes her character Ruth as “the writer in the family. She gets to tell a story throughout the whole show that affects everyone.” In fact, the “story” Ruth tells is about her own family’s history, which she plans to use as the subject of a play. Acting out the story-within-the-play “presents the challenge of this role as well. Ruth portrays so many different emotions.” Katie thinks that audiences will easily relate to Miracle’s portrayal of the tight-knit Nowaks, just as she does: “Especially with it being a close knit family and all the bickering and poking fun at each other. That's a way the show relates to my family. We are all so close and poke fun all the time. “
Katie’s role in Miracle came about as somewhat of a surprise, since she did not formally audition: “My mom, who plays Clara, asked me to read with her for her early audition. I was kind of nervous but I was happy to help her out. It's been years since I've been on stage and I really had fun being up there. I remember telling my mom later on that it made me want to be back on stage.” Days later, she was unexpectedly offered the part of Ruth, and was excited to accept. Katie calls working with her mom onstage an “amazing experience. I feel that having her onstage with me gives me courage. I can read the emotions on her face and feel them all the way to my heart. It helps me with my character being her daughter in real life. I just pretend it's my mom and not Clara. If I see that she is upset and saddened, I feel it and it helps me with my character to respond to her emotions. So many shows that my mom has been in has brought me to tears. Everyone at the barn knows that I'm a crier. I have always been this way. To see my mother on stage, she rocks me to the core.”
Katie currently works as a massage therapist at LaVida Massage of Farmington Hills. Her three children also love the Barn and after rehearsals they love to get up on the stage and pretend to act. Perhaps someday they won’t just be pretending.
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.