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Title
Driving Miss Daisy

Theatre
Granbury Opera House, Granbury, TX

Dates
January 11 – February 10, 2019

Synopsis
The place is the Deep South, the time 1948, just prior to the civil rights movement. Having recently demolished another car, Daisy Werthan, a rich, sharp-tongued Jewish widow of seventy-two, is informed by her son, Boolie, that henceforth she must rely on the services of a chauffeur. The person he hires for the job is a thoughtful, unemployed black man, Hoke, whom Miss Daisy immediately regards with disdain and who, in turn, is not impressed with his employer’s patronizing tone and, he believes, her latent prejudice. But, in a series of absorbing scenes spanning twenty-five years, the two, despite their mutual differences, grow ever closer to, and more dependent on, each other, until, eventually, they become almost a couple. Slowly and steadily the dignified, good-natured Hoke breaks down the stern defenses of the ornery old lady, as she teaches him to read and write and, in a gesture of good will and shared concern, invites him to join her at a banquet in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. As the play ends Hoke has a final visit with Miss Daisy, now ninety-seven and confined to a nursing home, and while it is evident that a vestige of her fierce independence and sense of position still remain, it is also movingly clear that they have both come to realize they have more in common than they ever believed possible—and that times and circumstances would ever allow them to publicly admit.

Cast
Daisy Werthan – Joyce Eckstein
Hoke Coleburn – A. Solomon Abah Jr.
Boolie Werthan – Chuck King

Creative Team
Director – Shane Brooks
Assistant Director – Matt Beutner
Scenic Designer – Kerri Pavelick
Costume Designer – Drenda Lewis
Prop Mistress – Gaylene Carpenter
Lighting Designer – David Broberg
Sound Designer – Kyle Hoffman
Technical Director – Kalani Morrissette
Stage Manager – Erika Kisner 
Soung Board Operator – Erika Kisner
Stage Running Crew – David Broberg, William Bryum, Joshua Emmanuel McRae Davis
Dressers – Jennifer Hartgraves, Devon Kleine 

Final Thoughts

Nathan and I gifted ourselves season tickets for Granbury’s 2019 Theatre season. We thoroughly enjoyed Footloose (click here for the review) and were impressed with the 2019 lineup.

Driving Miss Daisy was this year’s first production. To Nathan’s surprise, or maybe not, I’d never seen the play OR the 1989 movie starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. {Driving Miss Daisy won academy awards for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Writing and Morgan Freeman won a Golden Globe for his performance as Hoke.} While I’m embarrassed to admit I hadn’t seen this award-winning film, I was born in 1986 so it wasn’t really an appropriate movie for a three-year old. EEEK, don’t calculate my age!

The Granbury Theatre is conveniently located in the heart of Granbury on the town square. The quaint and nostalgic theatre was recently remodeled, so it’s lovely inside. In 2012 the theatre underwent a $3.5 million renovation and it’s gorgeous. I love to see the actors sweat and spit (like my mom) so we like seats in the center orchestra – sixth or seventh row.

The set design was quite simple, the left side of the stage was an upper-class living room filled with chachkies on the walls. Stage right had the front and back seat of an old car with a steering wheel. The theatrical production has a small cast – with three actors: the mother, the son and the driver.

As the show began, I was reminded of two things – “my how times have changed”, and “my how times have not changed”! What do I mean by that? Early in the first scene the son comments that his mother is 72 years old and is much too old to be driving. Ha. The audience, whose average age was probably close to that, boo-ed. I laughed quietly as I thought about both my dad and father-in-law who will be 70 this year. They don’t seem that old. My grandma is 90 and still drives… she’s slowing down, but nevertheless, the comment struck a nerve with the audience.

As the story continued, the mother – an impatient white Southern lady (who dreads becoming dependent on others) and a patient black man as her driver begin to form a friendship. Actually, it’s more than that, it’s a beautiful “colorblind” bond. Driving Miss Daisy reminded me of this year’s Best Picture Nominee The Green Book. It’s virtually the same story about a white driver and a black musician on a concert tour in the south – about the same time frame as Miss Daisy. The themes are universal – no matter how different you think you may be, there is more common ground between us, than difference. All we have to do is be open. Open to listening to one another. Open to learning from one another.

The Granbury Theatre Company is a wonderful example of great regional theatre. It’s got heart and compassion. Chuck King who played the son did a great job. His performance was not only professional but thoughtful and kind. Miss Daisy, portrayed by Joyce Eckstein embraced the role with crusty honesty. It has to be difficult to play an endearing curmudgeon. It is impossible for anyone to fill the shoes of Morgan Freeman, who was Hoke in the movie. After all – he has also portrayed God in lots of films – however, A. Solomon Abah Jr. played the driver as a kind and thoughtful man with a good soul. The actors worked well together on the stage and after seeing this production I am certain of two things. I’m glad we bought season tickets for the Granbury Theatre and when we get home, Nathan and I are going to watch Driving Miss Daisy – the movie!

Tickets are extremely reasonable and there are plenty of quaint places in Granbury to have a meal – before or after the show. Don’t delay – DRIVE OVER TO GRANBURY and say “hello” to Miss Daisy!

Learn more about Hallie's other favorite shows.