by Nancy Holley
Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.
The Visalia Players are proud to present Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize winning comedy-drama Driving Miss Daisy. The play and film made popular by such stars as Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman, Angela Lansbury, and James Earl Jones depict the twenty-five year relationship of a Jewish woman raised in the segregated South and her African-American chauffeur, a product of the same era.
Interwoven into the journey of Daisy Werthan and Hoke Colburn is Daisy’s son Boolie. Boolie hires Hoke when Daisy has an accident, and he becomes concerned about her safety. Daisy is not happy about her loss of independence and initially refuses to let Hoke drive her anywhere. When she finally relents, Hoke’s remark is “Yassuh, only took six days. Same time it take the Lawd to make the worl’.”
Director Sharon DeCoux assembled a strong cast to present this powerful play with a message that is particularly applicable today. Starring as Daisy is Irene Morse, no stranger to the Ice House Theatre and excellent acting performances. Morse is enjoying her experience with the play. “It is a lot more fun being in a play with two good actors who give you something you can play off of. It’s a good feeling.”
Hoke is portrayed by Clarence Cryer, a health care Chief Executive Officer from Corcoran. Cryer is new to the Visalia Players and the Ice House theatre, but DeCoux, cast, and crew are hoping this is just the first of many productions. Cryer noted, “It’s an opportunity to return to my first love—theatre. It is my first role of this magnitude, and I understand how hard it is to make it look natural and easy.”
Aaron Johnson finds the role of Boolie interesting and challenging. Born after desegregation and after the era of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X, Johnson found himself in unfamiliar territory with the relationships in the play. “I try to avoid anything about race and going into the show knowing I have to say the word colored. It’s just difficult to say colored.”
Morse commented with a smile, “I’m drawn to old lady parts. I’ve played an old Christian woman and an old Jewish lady, but this [Daisy] is a woman who doesn’t understand the depth of her prejudice and bigotry. She is a product of her time and her geography.” Morse describes the role of Daisy as an extraordinary opportunity for an actor. “The playwright has written a character with lots of substance. You don’t always get to do that in theatre.”
“Hoke is proud, but uneducated,” noted Cryer. “He is patient. It is patience that has made it possible for him to exist. As the play progresses, he is older—still trying to find his way in a society that is changing. He manages to do that with calm and patience.”
The growth of the relationship between Daisy and Hoke is the heart of the play and makes it endearing to the actors and the audience. The comedic moments are typical of clashes that occur when two people from very different backgrounds are thrown together. The naturalness of these moments is part of the playwright’s genius.
Driving Miss Daisy opens at the Ice House Theatre at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 27, 2017, and runs for three weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 10/27, 10/28, 11/3, 11/4, 11/10, and 11/11, and matinees at 2 p.m. on 10/29, 11/5, and 11/12.
The Players are grateful to the following Season Sponsors: Family Healthcare Network, Graham & Associates, Lansdowne, Inc., and Martin Enterprises.
For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.
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To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLDMD in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.