What: “Big Maggie” stage drama
Where: Brigit St. Brigit Theatre, 1002 Dodge St.
When: Tonight through Sept. 30; 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Sunday matinees 2 p.m. Sept. 16 and 30. Exception: 7:30 p.m. show Sept. 17.
Tickets: $25 adults, $20 students and senior citizens
Information: 402-502-4910 or online at bsbtheatre.com
Like the title character she is playing in the Brigit St. Brigit Theatre's production of “Big Maggie,” actress Delaney Driscoll found that a death in the family triggered a change in her life.
In John Keane's play, Irish housewife Maggie's husband dies. On the day of his funeral, she takes charge of her life — a revolutionary decision for an Irish widow in 1963.
The expectation is for the family farm and shop to pass on to Maggie's sons. But Maggie got her ill husband to sign everything over to her. She will distribute it when and how she sees fit, and she will face down her selfish children, now in their 20s.
Driscoll, a professional actress who has worked and studied acting on both coasts, gave her career a back seat while raising her daughter, Kate Laughery.
“I'm a single parent,” Driscoll said. “It's hard to be a mother and actress and be good at both. My priority has been my daughter.”
In March, Driscoll's own mother died. Amid her grief, she pondered how short life is. Kate, now 16 and in high school, told her mother it was time to make herself happy.
“If you feel like you have a calling, you should be doing that,” Driscoll said. “I decided I'd scrub toilets, hang lights, do anything, but I wasn't going to work anywhere other than in the theater.”
Director Cathy Kurz, who founded the Brigit, hired Driscoll as a marketing coordinator, knowing she had experience and success at sales. She also cast her as Maggie.
“Big Maggie is a great presence,” Kurz said. “She comes off as harsh. She bucks the will of her small Irish village, the Catholic Church, her children. What she does is not sympathetic. I needed a charismatic, intelligent and strong actress to carry that off. Maggie is not simply shrewish. She's smart, intuitive and female.”
Kurz said Maggie gave a philandering, hard-drinking husband 25 years, and now she refuses to surrender the rest of her life to the whims of her children.
“No shawls and rosaries for her,” Kurz said. “Now it's her turn.”
Driscoll said “Big Maggie” is a great play and a great part, written by Ireland's most produced playwright.
The show opens the Brigit's 20th season. The theater has partnered with Nosh restaurant, located next door, for a dinner-and-show package on Thursday nights. Audience talkbacks will be held after both Sunday matinees.
Contact the writer: