The strongest friendships often exist between the most unlikely pairs, as is the case in Alfred Uhry’s beloved play “Driving Miss Daisy,” onstage now through North Carolina Theatre and directed by Eric Woodall. The friendship at the heart of this charming, well-structured play is the one that exists between “rich” Miss Daisy (Sandy Duncan) and her driver Hoke (Kevyn Morrow). Their relationship, spanning the years from 1948 to 1973, sees them through times of prejudice and somehow manages to survive despite their sometimes-clashing personalities.
When the audience is first introduced to Daisy, she has just caused a car accident, and her son, Boolie (Bob Hess), is informing her that she will no longer be allowed to drive. It is in these first few minutes that Daisy’s feisty personality emerges and that the audience falls in love with this spunky character. Duncan, with her sweet, southern accent makes Miss Daisy’s moxie even more amusing while Hess, all frustration and earnest concern, creates a believably annoyed Boolie. The last character to be introduced is, of course, Hoke, and in this production, he’s definitely the best. With his gentle voice and kind face, Morrow perfectly embodies Hoke’s humor, patience, and practicality. Morrow, however, can also handle Hoke’s sterner, more emotional moments, always striking just the right balance to make Hoke entirely believable.
As the characters’ interactions play out, the story is the main focus thanks to Woodall’s simple staging. He devotes one corner of the stage to Boolie’s office, one to the car where Hoke drives Miss Daisy, and the center of the stage to Miss Daisy’s living room. Woodall uses a projection screen behind the “car” to establish movement and place- at one point, an authentic storefront shot of a vintage Piggy Wiggly is used- but that’s the only thing “fancy” about the direction. Everything else is simple and quick moving, keeping the emotional interactions between the characters the main focus. Thanks to the non-overwhelming direction, such tender moments as Miss Daisy teaching Hoke to read, are given the poignancy they deserve.
As the years gradually pass in these characters’ lives- their passing denoted by subtle changes, such as Hoke’s graying hair and Boolie’s growing belly- audience members are sure to remain completely enthralled. Not only is the story a classic, well-written one, one that moves effortlessly from tenderness to humor and then back again, but the believable chemistry between Duncan and Morrow makes the relationship between Daisy and Hoke all the more realized and beautiful. For laughter, tears, and a thoroughly engaging story, don’t miss “Driving Miss Daisy.”
The North Carolina Theatre presents DRIVING MISS DAISY, starring Sandy Duncan at 7:30 p.m. May 4, 7:30 p.m. May 6-9, and 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 10 and 11 in the A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
TICKETS: $56.75-$78.30 (including fees).
NCT Box Office: 919-831-6941, ext. 6944, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/season-tickets.
Ticketmaster: 800-745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/844810.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-831-6941, ext. 6949, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.nctheatre.com/tickets/group-sales.
SHOW: http://nctheatre.com/shows/driving-miss-daisy and http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/event/drivingmissdaisy-4044.
PRESENTER: http://www.nctheatre.com/, https://www.facebook.com/pages/North-Carolina-Theatre/24276860186, and https://twitter.com/nctheatre.
BLOG (Stage Notes): http://www.nctheatre.com/stage-notes.
NOTE 1: There will be post-show discusstions after the 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 6th, and Thursday, May 8th, performances; and a post-show conversation after the 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10th, performance will be moderated by City of Raleigh Museum executive director Ernest Dollar and feature local civil rights pioneer Joe Holt, who was the first African-American student to try to integrate the Wake County Public School System.
NOTE 2: Arts Access, Inc. will audio describe the show’s 2 p.m. Saturday, May 10th, performance.
Driving Miss Daisy (1987 Off-Broadway hit, 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner, and 2010 Broadway hit): http://www.lortel.org/LLA_archive/index.cfm?search_by=show&id=1345 (Internet Off-Broadway database), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?id=488274 (Internet Broadway database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_Miss_Daisy_%28play%29 (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
Study Guide: http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/driving-miss-daisy (New Georgia Encyclopedia).
Alfred Uhry (Atlanta, GA-born New York City playwright and screenwriter, born 1936): http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/arts-culture/alfred-uhry-b-1936 (New Georgia Encyclopedia), http://thefsw.org/page/members/elected-members/alfred-uhry (Fellowship of Southern Writers profile) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Uhry (Wikipedia).
Driving Miss Daisy (1989 film): http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097239/ (Internet Movie Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_Miss_Daisy (Wikipedia).
Eric Woodall (NCT guest director): http://www.broadwayworld.com/people/Eric-Woodall/ (BroadwayWorld.com bio) and https://www.facebook.com/eric.woodall.98 (Facebook page).
Sandy Duncan (NCT star): http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0242098/ (Internet Movie Database), http://www.ibdb.com/person.asp?ID=38693 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_Duncan (Wikipedia).
Susie Potter is a Raleigh, NC-based freelance writer and editor. She is a 2009 graduate of Raleigh’s Meredith College, where she majored in English. She holds graduate degrees in teaching and American literature from North Carolina State University in Raleigh. In addition to her work for Triangle Arts and Entertainment, she is an award-winning author of short fiction. Her works have appeared in The Colton Review, Raleigh Quarterly, Broken Plate Magazine, Big Muddy: A Journal of the Mississippi River Valley, the Chaffey Review, and Existere. To read all of Susie Potter’s Triangle Arts and Entertainment articles and reviews, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/susie-q/. To read more of her writings, click http://www.susiepotter.com and http://www.myspace.com/susiepotter.