Monika Bigsby found love, a job and a role as a dog at PPT
By Katie Scarvey
Monika Bigsby’s experience with Piedmont Players started in 1984 with a production of Cinderella.
She was 17, and a school chum wanted to audition and took Monika along with her.
“She wanted the role of Cinderella,” Monika says. “I fully intended on painting scenery.”
But the director at the time, Rod Harter, pointed to Monika and said, “Do you sing?”
After a “warbled rendition” of Happy Birthday, Monika was cast as Cinderella, “much to the chagrin of my friend, who incidentally was no longer my friend afterward,” Monika says.
Monika has been on stage as an actress in 16 shows and has volunteered in 40 as a crew member, either doing lights, sound, props or stage management. Her favorite show was “Sylvia,” back in 1998, in which she played the title role of a dog that appeared to the audience as a human female.
“It was the most fun I had onstage,” she says. “I got to run around the stage and yell insults to an imaginary cat and agonize being ‘left home alone’ in the overly dramatic way that pets have,” Monika says.
“The show made me look at dogs in a whole new way.
“As a huge ego boost, though the years have passed and my appearance has changed, people still say to me, ‘You were the dog, weren’t you?’”
PPT has affected many aspects of Monika’s life.
Years ago, she stage managed “Dark of the Moon,” and Nancy Gaines was in the cast.
After asking Gaines, an attorney, to be a reference on a job application, Gaines made her an offer: “Come stage manage my office.”
“We are currently in our 13th year as co-workers and friends,” Monika says. “I could not imagine my life without her.”
Monika not only found work but found love through PPT, as many have. Here’s her story:
“James Bigsby was ‘the curtain guy’ for ‘Jesus Christ Superstar.’ This was 1995 and the first show in the Meroney Theatre.
“We got to talking one day, and over the course of time, became best friends. A couple of years into the friendship, we were sitting in some prop rocking chairs with Reid, Kim Fink, Tammie Casper and several others in the cast of ‘Raney’ when the subject of love came up.
“James made the statement that ‘Love is all in the lighting.’”
“Lighting?” I said.
“Sure,” he replied. “The last time I fell in love, the shop lights were dimmed and the light over the greenroom area were behind you, and your eyes were sparkling and that was it.”
“Well, I did what any girl that hears the L-word drop from her best guy friend would do.
“We eventually glossed over the issue and stayed friends. A couple of years later, I realized that he was one of the most important parts of my life.
“After a few agonizing months, I told him and by a stroke of incredible luck and theater magic, he felt the same.
“We were married in 2002 by magistrate Joe McGee, who we also met through PPT, in the Norvell Rehearsal Hall in the same building where we met.”
Monika’s feelings about how PPT knits the community together are probably shared by many:
“Piedmont Players is a place where people come together, bringing skills, talents, sympathetic ears and open hearts. Friendships are forged, contacts are made, life is affirmed and loss is mourned…on stage and off. It is a place where, at any given time, you will find friends, family and co-workers, all volunteer, working together to bring about the magic that is theatre. The magic that is life.”