Saturday, March 12, 2011

DRIVING MISS DAISY • Dramatic License Productions

Dramatic License Productions' 2011 season opener is a charming presentation of DRIVING MISS DAISY.  The revival of this play has been enjoying a run in NYC at the John Golden Theatre since October 2010, starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones, but will close in April.  Now is a great opportunity to see St. Louis' production that will close sooner than that, but luckily, it's easier to get to Chesterfield than it is to get to NYC.

So, it's become obvious that it's just not safe for Daisy Werthan to drive herself anymore.  Her son Boolie has broken the news to her that whether she likes it or not, she's getting a driver, and Hoke Coleburn is the man for the job.  Both Daisy, a Jewish widow, and Hoke, a folksy black Southerner, are strong, proud personalities.  Daisy is convinced her accident was the car's fault, that LaSalles are better than Packards, and consistently denies claims that she's rich, often referring to her rough days coming up on Forsyth Street.  Hoke is an easy talker who appreciates Jews, and doesn't mind telling you of their virtuous thrift.

Sally Eaton (Miss Daisy) and Dennis Lebby (Hoke)
Photos courtesy of Dramatic License Productions.
Although it takes about a week for Miss Daisy to break down and finally allow Hoke to drive her anywhere, once she relents and they're on their way to the Piggly Wiggly, their relationship slowly starts to take shape.  The unlikely friendship between these two evolves from the late 1940's until the early 70's.  Racial tensions and anti-Semitism frame their commonalities.  Through a series of vignettes, their entertaining and cantankerous back-and-forth exchanges eventually give way to a quiet appreciation and understanding that bring them closer together.  

Dennis Lebby will win you over immediately as Hoke, and Sally Eaton makes for an engaging Miss Daisy.  These two are quite funny together, and watching their unfolding friendship is a real treat.  Also great work by B. Weller as the dutiful son, Boolie.  The costumes, sound and lighting (Jane Sullivan, Joseph T. Pini and Ian Stoutenburgh respectively) keep you in the mood of the play, and the set by Courtney Sanazaro-Sloey is efficient and homey.  Never fear city folk - it's worth the drive, and clocking in at around 85 minutes, you'll be back home in time to catch the 10 o'clock news!


DRIVING MISS DAISY

Written by Alfred Uhry
Directed by Annamaria Pileggi
Dramatic License Theatre, Chesterfield Mall (upper level entrance, next to Houlihans)
through March 27 | tickets: $22.00 - $25.00
Performances Thursday to Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2pm

Cast:
Sally Eaton (Daisy Werthan), B. Weller (Boolie Werthen) and Dennis Lebby* (Hoke Coleburn).
* Member Actors' Equity Association

Creative:
Scenic design by Courtney Sanazaro-Sloey; lighting design by Ian Stoutenburgh; costume design by Jane Sullivan; sound design by Joseph T. Pini.

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