|Director Sue Rogers (seated) reviewing the Miracle script with Maggie Gilkes and Katie Bigwood during rehearsal|
If you haven’t seen Miracle on South Division Street yet, what are you waiting for? A sign from God? In all seriousness, the Farmington Players’ production of Miracle has been – in its own humble way – a miraculous coming together of faith, family and community, highlighting the most positive aspects of community theater. The play features mother Clara Nowak’s soup “prepared on holy ground,” so director Sue Rogers got the idea of doing an opening night fundraiser to benefit Manna Community Meals, a Detroit soup kitchen. Pastries were provided by On the Rise Bakery and coffee donated by – who else? – Miracle Coffee. And best of all, show sponsor Varsity Automotive Group matched the entire pot from the 50/50 raffle, generously benefitting Manna and On the Rise. Sue said, “Given our extremely cold winter, it was fabulous to see how generous others were with caring for the less fortunate in our own community. Given our sometimes cynical times, I’m reminded of Clara’s rhetorical line, ‘So the miracle’s over, huh?!’”
While Miracle is not overtly religious, Sue found it “very meaningful for me to do a show that has a spiritual dimension. I think this is something people in general are searching for and theatergoers in particular have found it a refreshing positive experience in the midst of this cold and sometimes depressing winter. I really like the way the author uses humor to talk about the serious divisions in our society. You can’t turn on the news without feeling the sense of sadness that as a society we are too often in conflict, judging others who are different, and unable to find common ground. Miracle speaks to people who have that yearning to ‘get along,’ as Jimmy’s character says.” Sue used a short excerpt from the Beatles song Let It Be to convey that in times of trouble, people tend to lean on their faith and their family, especially their mother. As she explained, “Some people have wondered why we sampled Let It Be in the end, referencing Mother Mary when the play actually extends its message of faith well beyond the Christian community. I used it because Paul McCartney actually wrote the song about his own mother and the show certainly has a strong feminist element that honors motherhood in a unique way. I think of the statue as a universal mother (my mother, your mother, Clara’s mother, the Blessed Mother, Eve, Mother Earth, etc.).”
Another special aspect of directing Miracle has been the input and encouragement that Sue has received from author Tom Dudzick. Sue said that he “has a beautiful way of reminding us that we are all so much more similar than different and that’s an important message to hold onto these days. Plus he’s been great about making himself available for consultation.” In fact, Mr. Dudzick sent the cast a congratulatory letter on opening night, in which he wrote, “I’m so excited for you guys. I feel like I’m part of your production, there’s been so much contact between Sue and myself. I hear business is booming for our little show. And I LOVE the story of Katie and Margaret Gilkes playing themselves [as mother and daughter] on stage!! Break a leg everyone! Remember -- hold for laughs. I guarantee you’re going to get some.”
Indeed, Miracle has plenty of laughs, as well as heartfelt moments. It is a show that audiences have really connected with, and that is a tribute to the cast’s strong bond with one another. As Sue says, “The cast has been a joy to work with. We’ve said repeatedly that with a cast this small, we have truly become like family. The camaraderie, jokes, kibitzing, and playfulness have all felt like a fun family vibe. Some of us have never worked together before, so it was amazing to see how everyone connected so readily.”
The Farmington Players' production of Miracle on South Division Street has three performances remaining: Thursday February 26, Friday February 27, and Saturday February 28, all at 8:00. 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.