Review by Mary Kate Groh of “Driving Miss Daisy” Covedale Theatre
If you yearn to take a nostalgic ride through history from the late 1940s right up to the momentous Civil Rights Movement, the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts has the play for you. Written by the American playwright Alfred Uhry, â€œDriving Miss Daisyâ€ is the poignant story of a beautiful friendship that blossomed simply because an elderly, rich woman demolished her car.Â
The play opens in Atlanta, Georgia during the late 1940s with Daisy Werthen (Kathie Labanz) having just wrecked her new car. Daisy, a fiery and spirited old widow, despises the idea of her son, Boolie (Justin Baldwin) hiring her a chauffeur, a humble black man, Hoke (Danteâ€™ Donaldson).
Over the next twenty-five years, Miss Daisy and Hoke form a close bond with each other and grow more dependent on each other. Daisy teaches Hoke how to read and write while Hoke is ready to drive Daisy wherever she needs to go. The play closes with a touching moment as Hoke pays a visit to Daisy, now in a nursing home, where it teaches the audience an important lesson on friendship, civility, and love, despite the challenging time in history that their friendship formed.
Director Greg Procaccino does an impeccable job of bringing this classic story to life for audience members of all ages to enjoy. The actors deliver the tongue in cheek lines with such flawless comedic timing that patrons roared with laughter. The classic songs that play throughout the entire production had me tapping my toes and swaying to the wistful melodies.
Production Stage Manager Angelica Ortiz does a fabulous job with keeping the stage design simple yet to the point. The simplicity of the stage allowed me to focus on the heartwarming play unfolding before my eyes.
Perhaps one of the most memorable moments that stand out to me from this production is the clever way that shows how time is passing. A large projector screen, disguised as a picture frame mounted to the wall, displays iconic and notorious headlines from throughout history dating from the early 1950s with the Korean War right up to the late 1960s when Robert Kennedy was assassinated.
Portraying time passing in a stage production can be difficult, but this simple set design with the projection screen really helped move the story along without any confusion as to what the time period was during a particular scene. Hats off to Angelica Ortiz for her outstanding stage management.
I went into â€œDriving Miss Daisyâ€ with an open mind because I did not really know what to expect, however, I was anything but disappointed. This lively yet moving play is not to be missed. â€œDriving Miss Daisyâ€ runs through September 29 at the Covedale Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are available by calling the box office at 513-241-6550 or by clicking here.