by Lorraine Payette, written May 7, 2014
“I don’t want you. I don’t need you. And I don’t like you saying I’m rich…” (MD)
“You can’t drive, but you probably do a lot of things I can’t do. It’ll all work out…” (H)
“Wait, you’re speeding – I see it!” (MD)
“We ain’t doing but 19 miles an hour…” (H)
– Miss Daisy and Hoke from “Driving Miss Daisy”
(Gananoque, ON) Prepare to laugh, cry and be completely delighted as the Thousand Islands Playhouse opens the 2014 season with a heart-warming ride through time in their production of the Pulitzer Prize winning play, “Driving Miss Daisy.” Starring Nicola Lipman as Miss Daisy Werthan, Walter Borden as her chauffeur Hoke Colburn, and Brian Linds as her long suffering son, Boolie, this is the perfect way to warm up after a long, tiring winter. While Borden and Linds are making their debut at the Playhouse, local theatre goers will remember Lipman from her amazing performance in “No Great Mischief” during the Playhouse’s 2013 season.
Written by playwright Alfred Uhry, the play is a sensitive and humorous study of love and friendship, spanning a 25 year period starting in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1948. This was a time of extreme prejudice, a time when people were restrained, when society frowned upon anything it deemed improper. Yet, in this very difficult time, a beautiful, glowing friendship was to develop between a wealthy, elderly Jewish widow and her kind and compassionate African American chauffeur, different in some ways but very alike in so many others.
Miss Daisy feels very put upon. Due to an accident which, in her opinion, could not possibly have been her fault, her son Boolie has taken away her car keys, her ability to drive – and substituted a new and terrible threat in the form of a chauffeur called Hoke. She sees this as an attack not only upon her independence, but possibly on her very existence. Hers is a practical world, based in rock solid, unchanging sense and sensibility, and she fears a future that seems destined to come from this decision.
But time and familiarity can soften the harshest edges, and over the next twenty-five years, an amazing bond of love and friendship grows between these two radically different but oh, so similar individuals.
“This play examines different types of prejudice in society – against African Americans, Jews, the elderly and women,” said Ashlie Corcoran, director of “Driving Miss Daisy” and artistic director for the Playhouse. “It also looks at the struggle to retain dignity in one’s old age. The play explores these themes in a beautiful way – through the exploration of an unlikely friendship. We see a rigid professional relationship ripen into a deep friendship that gives Hoke and Daisy purpose through their golden years.”
“Brian and I have done the play once together at another theatre,” said Lipman. “I’ve only done it once, but I’m totally ready to do it again because it’s like getting to know somebody. I’m getting to know Daisy, and if it’s someone you love or someone who interests you, then you want to know more and more about that other person, and that’s what makes them interesting. It makes you want to be their friend and I think that Daisy is infinitely knowable. I’m only at the beginning of her age now, but someday I’ll be as old as she is and there’s so much to learn.”
“This is number eight for me,” said Borden. “It really is a ‘perfect’ little play. It’s the simplicity – the playwright wrote it as a great painter creates art. They’re at the height of their powers when they paint, they work in very broad strokes and you have to fill in the rest. He wrote it like that, and for me, every time I go after it, it really is brand new. There are so many layers that you keep finding because these are real people who lived very long lives, so every day you can add a couple of new layers to the characters.”
“For me to put it into perspective, you have a short rehearsal period and then you’re in front of an audience,” said Linds. “And when you’re learning things in front of an audience, you find new things, but to come and do a different production with a different director, you have an outside eye that is seeing things differently than you might have seen them, and opening up doors that you never expected to open. So that’s really exciting for me. This is a completely different production than the one that I did before, and is probably so for the others as well.”
“It’s a completely different dynamic,” said Lipman. “You have these four people coming together who all kind of know something, but we’re all putting it together in a new and different way.”
“For me as Walter playing Hoke, for the first time I have found my perfect cast,” said Borden. “I just knew it in the first reading – this is what I always wanted in order to be the Hoke I wanted to be. It’s amazing.”
This “perfect cast” will charm you through a sensitive and nostalgic production of “Driving Miss Daisy” from May 16 – June 14, 2014, at the Springer Theatre, 690 Charles Street South in Gananoque, Ontario. Running time for the play is 90 minutes. Show times are Tuesday through Saturday 8:00 pm, with matinees on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm (starting the Wednesday after opening night). New for this year is a special American Sign Language Interpreted performance to be held on Saturday, June 7 at 2:30 p.m. There will also be a student matinee presented by the TD Bank Group on Wednesday, June 4, at 11:00 a.m. Tickets are $32 for adults, $30 for seniors age 65+, $16 for students. Half priced preview is May 16. HST is applicable to all ticket prices. Group tickets are available at $26 – $28 each including GST. This show is recommended for people of all ages. For more information, please go to http://www.1000islandsplayhouse.com or contact the box office at 613-382-7020.