Triangle theater veterans Frances Stanley, Holmes Morrison, and Tim Upchurch will all reprise their roles in the Towne Players’ critically acclaimed production of Driving Miss Daisy on Jan. 20, 21, and 26-28 in the Garner Performing Arts Center (formerly the Garner Historic Auditorium). Towne Players artistic director Beth Honeycutt will once again stage award-winning Atlanta, GA playwright and screenwriter Alfred Uhry’s perennially popular 1987 Off-Broadway hit and 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner, which Towne Players’ patrons selected as the Garner-based theater company’s encore presentation for 2012.
Frances Stanley plays wealthy Jewish widow and retired Atlanta schoolteacher Daisy Werthan, who is 72 when the play opens in 1948 and 97 when it ends in 1973. The extraordinary interracial friendship that develops between the irascible Miss Daisy and her easy-going African-American chauffeur Hoke Colburn (portrayed by Holmes Morrison) blossoms during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement, led by Atlanta-based preacher and political activist Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and signal events in that movement provide important historical context for this fictional story.
The show’s fiercely independent, penny-pinching title character is 72 and still living in her own home when the curtain rises and 97 and suffering from dementia and living in a nursing home when the final curtain falls.
The following quotations come from the show’s playbill:
“The fourth times a charm,” quips Frances Stanley, who plays Daisy Werthan. “Way back in 1999, when we did Driving Miss Daisy for the first time, who would have ever thought there would be a second time, a third time, and now all these years later a fourth time.
“From the very beginning,” Stanley declares, “Miss Daisy has been my favorite character out of all the great roles I’ve been blessed to play. Having reached the same age Daisy is at the beginning of the play has given me a better understanding of this feisty lady. (Now if I just can make it to 97.)
“Thanks to the best audience ever for asking for this sweet play again. Working with Holmes [Morrison] and Tim [Upchurch as Boolie Werthan] is always such a joy, and [director] Beth [Honeycutt] as always is the mastermind who helps us bring these delightful characters to life,” says Frances Stanley, who invites Triangle theatergoers to “sit back and enjoy the new couple of hours with Daisy, Boolie, and Hoke.”
Holmes Morrison, who plays Hoke Coleburn, exults, “What a thrill to be doing this important and enjoyable play one more time! … Of all the plays I have done in the Triangle, Driving Miss Daisy, The Boys Next Door, The Fantasticks, and Our Town rank among my favorites.
“What a pleasure to work with Frances [Stanley] and Tim [Upchurch] once again!” he adds. “I really appreciate the audience and their loyalty to the Towne Players. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart….”
Tim Upchurch, who plays the headstrong Miss Daisy’s long-suffering son Boolie, adds, “I am excited to be back on stage as Boolie. Driving Miss Daisy is one of my favorite productions, because it reminds me of the sometimes sweet Southern era in which my parents were raised.”
He adds, “Driving Miss Daisy was one of the first [Towne Players] productions …. Thanks to [director] Beth [Honeycutt] for allowing me to work with the talents of Frances [Stanley] and Holmes [Morrison] again….”
The Playwright’s Horizon presentation of Driving Miss Daisy made its Off-Broadway debut, under the direction of Ron Lagomarsino, on April 15, 1987 at the John Houseman Theatre, where it played for 1,195 performances before closing on June 3, 1990. In addition to the Pulitzer Price, the show won the 1988 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play.
The 1989 motion-picture version of Driving Miss Daisy, adapted for the silver screen by playwright Alfred Uhry and directed by Bruce Beresford, starred Jessica Tandy as Daisy, Morgan Freeman as Hoke, and Dan Aykroyd as Boolie. The film won four 1990 Academy Awards, including the Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actress in a Leading Role (Tandy), and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Uhry). (Morgan Freeman also received an Academy Award nomination for his performance as Hoke.)
In addition to director Beth Honeycutt, the creative team for the current Towne Players production of Driving Miss Daisy includes her husband, technical director Scott Honeycutt, plus Frances Stanley’s dressers Linda Brochin and Rebecca Stiles, Holmes Morrison’s dresser Mike Walpole, and Tim Upchurch’s dresser Jason Weeks.
In the “Director’s Corner” of the show’s playbill, Beth Honeycutt writes, “Driving Miss Daisy is certainly a show about race and tolerance. But, 12 years after first directing the show, I realize it is so much more complex. It is a show about growing older and the fear of losing independence and purpose. It is the story of two very different people who give each other a purpose.”
She adds, “Frances [Stanley], Holmes [Morrison], Tim [Upchurch], and I are delighted that you, our audience, chose this show, overwhelmingly, to bring back. We are as proud of it today as we were 12 years ago. We hope you see something new as well as something familiar in this, our absolute last run of Driving Miss Daisy.”
SECOND OPINION: Jan. 18th Garner, NC Garner News preview by Kelly Griffith: http://garnernews.net/view/full_story/17198914/article-‘Miss-Daisy’-drives-into-GPAC-this-weekend?.
The Towne Players present DRIVING MISS DAISY at 8 p.m. Jan. 20, 21, 26, and 27 and 2 and 8 p.m. Jan. 28 in the Garner Performing Arts Center, 742 W. Garner Rd., Garner, North Carolina 27529.
TICKETS: $12 ($10 students and seniors 55+).
BOX OFFICE: Tickets will be sold at the door.
GROUP RATES (10+ tickets): 919-795-8730 or http://www.towneplayers.org/contact/group-ticket-info/.
The Play: http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), http://www.ibdb.com/show.php?ID=488274 (Internet Broadway Database), http://www.daisyonbroadway.com/ (2010-11 Broadway revival and Fall 2012 tour), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_Miss_Daisy_(play) (Wikipedia).
The Script: http://books.google.com/ (Google Books).
The Film: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097239/ (Internet Movie Database) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Driving_Miss_Daisy (Wikipedia).
The Playwright: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Uhry (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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