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Sandy Duncan Stars in “Driving Miss Daisy” at NCT

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Sixty-eight-year-old television and stage actress and comedienne Sandy Duncan will star in the title role of wealthy Jewish widow and retired Atlanta schoolteacher Daisy Werthan in North Carolina Theatre‘s upcoming production of Driving Miss Daisy by award-winning Atlanta, GA-born New York City playwright and screenwriter Alfred Uhry. The perennially popular 1987 Off-Broadway hit and 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner will run May 2-4 and 6-11 in the 600-seat A.J. Fletcher Opera Theater in the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, NC.

According to the North Carolina Theatre:

Sandy Duncan has had an illustrious stage career that spans five decades, making her debut performance at age 12 in The Dallas Summer Musicals production of The King and I. She earned rave reviews with her starring role in the Broadway revival of Peter Pan, for which she was nominated for a Tony Award®.

“Other Tony Award nominations include her roles in Canterbury Tales and The Boyfriend. Additional stage credits; Broadway’s My One and Only and Chicago, Circle Mirror Transformation at the George St Playhouse, Becky’s New Car at Theater Aspen and A Body of Water at The Old Globe Theater, as well as The Music Man, Finian’s Rainbow and The Sound of Music (all New York City Center).

[Duncan] is widely recognized for her television roles such as in ‘The Hogan Family’ and an iconic string of ads as the Wheat Thins Spokesperson. She has appeared in a myriad of other film and TV roles, receiving two Emmy® nominations for her work as Sandy Stockton in Funny Face and Missy Ann Reynolds in Roots.

“Directing the show will be [Benson, NC native] Eric Woodall, whose directorial credits include North Carolina Theatre‘s Steel Magnolias [and] Theatre Raleigh‘s August: Osage County. He is a current resident director of Mamma Mia! and a casting director with Tara Rubin Casting. Some of [Woodall’]s Broadway shows and national tours include: Bullets Over Broadway, Billy Elliot, Jersey Boys, Big Fish, Aladdin, Young Frankenstein, and Phantom of the Opera….

“‘I am over the moon to be working with the amazing Sandy Duncan,’ says director Eric Woodall. ‘How thrilling to have such an accomplished actress of stage, film and television join the North Carolina Theatre to play Daisy. And she is a native Southerner to boot! I can’t wait to bring this adored character to life with one of America’s most beloved actresses.'”

When the curtain rises on Driving Miss Daisy, it is 1948 and the show’s fiercely independent, penny-pinching title character is 72 and still living in her own home in Atlanta, with the assistance of her businessman son Boolie (played at NCT by Bob Hess), who hires an African-American chauffeur named Hoke Colburn (portrayed for NCT by Kevyn Morrow). When the final curtain falls, it is 1973 and Miss Daisy is 97 years old and living in a nursing home and suffering from dementia.

The extraordinary interracial friendship that develops between the irascible Miss Daisy and her easy-going driver, Hoke Colburn, 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.

Playwright’s Horizon’s Off-Broadway presentation of Driving Miss Daisy made its New York City premiere, 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 Prize, 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.)

Driving Miss Daisy finally made its Broadway debut on Oct. 25, 2010 at the John Golden Theatre, where it played for 180 performances before closing on April 9, 2011. Directed by David Esbjornson, this star-studded “revival” starred James Earl Jones as Hoke Colburn, Vanessa Redgrave as Daisy Werthan, and Boyd Gaines as Boolie Werthan. Redgrave was nominated for the 2011 Tony Award® Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Play.

SECOND OPINION: April 29th Raleigh, NC WNCN interview with Sandy Duncan , conducted by Valonda Calloway for “My Carolina Today”: http://www.wncn.com/story/25379254/sandy-duncan-in-driving-miss-daisy; and April 16th Raleigh, NC Wake Living (quarterly) preview: http://www.wakeliving.com/News.aspx?li=11756.

The North Carolina Theatre presents DRIVING MISS DAISY, starring Sandy Duncan at 7:30 p.m. May 2, 2 and 7:30 p.m. May 3 and 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).

BOX OFFICE:

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, groups@nctheatre.com, 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. VENUE: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/venue/fletcher-opera-theater.

DIRECTIONS: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/directions.

PARKING: http://www.dukeenergycenterraleigh.com/parking.

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.

OTHER LINKS:

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), (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).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing robertm748@aol.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail robertm748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

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