|Kristi Schwartz (far right) is skeptical as sister Beverly when the Nowaks' world turns upside down|
Miracle on South Division Street is about family, faith, and what happens when the foundation your world is built upon gets shaken. Like all families, the Nowaks have their own group dynamic. Kristi Schwartz of Canton plays the older sister, Beverly, who she describes as “a very traditional and judgmental person. She views the world in black and white. A blue-collar worker by day (bottling salad dressing), Bev dreams of having a family of her own. She longs for a husband, kids, and a home with a picket fence. She is religious; however, has a foul mouth and can be very harsh to others. Her family is her life and she will do anything for them.”
Like any good actor, Kristi draws on her real life experiences to add realism to her character. She grew up in a large Catholic family where “you had to shout to be heard. This definitely prepared me to be part of the Nowak family! We had six children in our family (3 boys, 3 girls). I was definitely the bossy one in the family who told others what to do. My brothers were constantly teasing me and body slamming me (while watching WWF on Saturday mornings); so when [stage brother] Jimmy teases or hits me, it is like I am back home!”
Without giving anything away, Beverly has to deal with a loss during the show that really shakes her to her core. Kristi says, “I sometimes use the loss of my father -- who passed away from cancer in 2002 -- to help summon my devastation later in the show. Although they are two different situations, Bev is going through a loss in this play. She is bouncing between denial, anger, and sadness (depression).” Like Kristi, the “Nowak family has previously lost their patriarch, too. My siblings and I protect my mother much like the children protect Clara in this play.”
While Kristi draws on her own experiences, it’s also fun playing her opposite in Beverly. As an elementary teacher, Kristi is used to “talking sweetly to 3rd graders all day.” By contrast, “I really enjoy playing Bev because I get to take my sweet, bubbly, teacher side and put it away in my pocket for a bit. I can be harsh, swear a little, and interrupt everyone. This is all very different from my everyday life.” Kristi says that she “fell in love with this character and knew Bev would provide artistic challenges for me.” Director Sue Rogers has really helped Kristi “find” Beverly. Kristi says, “I have never had a director really encourage me to explore my character so deeply in a show.”
When she’s not teaching or doing theater, Kristi also enjoys dancing, drawing, and reading. But like Beverly, her pride and joy is her family. In Kristi’s case, husband Keith, and children Colin (16), Allie (13) and Drew (5) will always take center stage!
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