Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

August 19, 2013

Theatre Guild revives "Driving Miss Daisy"

VALDOSTA — Same three-person cast. Original director. A familiar story of an unlikely friendship between a white woman too old to drive and the black man hired to chauffeur her around town. All returning to a stage where one may think it has previously played but where it will finally make its debut this week, eight years after the original local production premiered.

Theatre Guild Valdosta first presented “Driving Miss Daisy” in 2005. It starred Joanne Griner in the title role as Daisy Wertham, Dr. John Gaston as driver Hoke Colburn, and Robert Hatton as Daisy’s son, Boolie, who hires Hoke to drive Miss Daisy.

All three of these actors have returned for this revival. Griner reprises the role after enjoying a stellar return to the stage in recent months; she played Carrie Watts, the aging woman who longs for her youthful home in TGV’s “The Trip to Bountiful;” more recently, she played Madame Armfeldt in Peach State Summer Theatre’s “A Little Night Music.” Both were memorable roles. Gaston returns to Hoke following his retirement this summer as dean of

Valdosta State University’s College of the Arts. Hatton has not been seen regularly with Theatre Guild in a few years, but has returned for this role.

Mary Helen Watson has also returned as director. She directed this cast in the first 2005 TGV “Driving Miss Daisy.” Watson says the characters and script came back quickly to the cast.

“Going through it twice, most of the lines came back to them,” Watson says.

With opening night Friday, “Driving Miss Daisy” returns less than a week after Theatre Guild closed its first show of the 2013-14 season, “9 to 5: The Musical,” which wrapped with a last performance this past Saturday night. “Driving Miss Daisy” is a special season addition, all part of the Guild’s ongoing 25th anniversary celebration.

Though a revival, this week marks the first time “Miss Daisy” will appear in the Guild’s home of The Dosta Playhouse in Downtown Valdosta. “Miss Daisy” has never been a part of a Guild regular season. It has always been a bonus show, so in the past, though a TGV production, it appeared on other stages, such as Mathis City Auditorium, outdoors in the Saunders Park amphitheater, in the old King of the Road; it traveled to other South Georgia towns. It was revived in 2006 and 2009, but it has never been performed on The Dosta stage until now.

Yet, no matter its location, “Driving Miss Daisy” is a story as familiar as home, as close as our nation’s history.

As a stage play, “Driving Miss Daisy” is a series of theatrical vignettes, which paints a strong portrait of three characters, an unexpected friendship, the passing of time and the coming of the civil-rights era.

Based on reviews from past performances, Griner presented Daisy in a slow thaw as she warms to Hoke through the years. Her Daisy is caustic with a withering glance or a vituperative comment, funny, and touching. She brought this character to full life.

Gaston has proven brilliant as Hoke. He has said as much with his facial expressions and body language as with the lines provided for Hoke. Gaston gives Hoke an underlying dignity. Hoke’s body has had to occasionally bow to oppression but not his spirit. Gaston translated these multiple parts of Hoke with a humorous, compassionate and nuanced performance.

Hatton’s Boolie serves as a bridge between Hoke and Daisy’s early relationship as well as a link to mark the passing of several years. Like Gaston and Griner, Hatton brought a believable life to Boolie who is both perplexed and prepared for his cranky mother and the steady driver he’s hired for her.

They achieved all of this without resorting to imitation of the Jessica Tandy-Morgan Freeman performances in the movie version of Alfred Uhry’s script.

In 2009, as this cast prepared for a series of out-of-town shows, Watson said then that those performances would be the last revival of TGV’s “Driving Miss Daisy.” If she and the cast come even close to the past productions, area theatre-goers will be pleased that some promises are made to be broken.



SHOWTIME

Theatre Guild Valdosta presents “Driving Miss Daisy.”

When: Show runs 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 23, 24; 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25.

Where: The Dosta Playhouse, 122 N. Ashley St.

More information, reservations: Visit www.theatreguildvaldosta.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 140422-Dan_Keplinger003.jpg The Art of Determination

    Artist Dan Keplinger invests passion into his frenetic pieces. His line work teems with energy. An unexpected trait in the often technically precise medium of printmaking.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • 140422-RibbonCutting.jpg Learning center named in Horne’s honor

    Noting his lengthy legacy in educating the region's young people, Valdosta City Schools officially renamed the Pinevale Learning Center Tuesday in honor of the late Maceo A. Horne Jr.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rose: Dismiss ‘Quitman 11’ case

    Following the second mistrial in the case of a Brooks County woman accused of voter fraud, a local civil rights leader has called for the issue to be dismissed, but prosecutors plan to seek prosecution for a third time.

    April 23, 2014

  • Lawsuit challenging Ga. gay marriage ban filed

    A gay rights group filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

    April 23, 2014

  • Commission denies City’s annexation request

    Lowndes County received an annexation request from the City of Hahira for five parcels of land that spanned approximately 66 acres, for the purpose of future development, and because the applicant sought city water and sewer.

    April 23, 2014

  • Confederate Memorial Day observed this weekend

    The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Valdosta Chapter 471, will observe Confederate Memorial Day, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26, at Sunset Hill Cemetery.

    April 23, 2014

  • connell book review.jpg Literary Guild hears Fannie Flagg’s latest

    “Reading for fun is great, but learning while reading is super,” Sandra Connell told the Literary Guild at the April meeting.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Performance index tops Lowndes school board meeting

    Lowndes County Board of Education celebrated the results of the College and Career Readiness Performance Index scores during its regular session Monday night.

    April 23, 2014

  • N1401P14008C.TIF Sheriff hosts Prescription Take-Back Day

    The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office will collect unused medications this Saturday as a part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140421 - flooding Shiloh Rd B#1.jpg Road re-opens following flooding

    Lowndes County officials re-opened one road Monday while keeping an eye on the area’s waterways for potential flooding.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results