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Driving Miss Daisy

a Comedy/Drama
by Alfred Uhry

COMPANY : Georgia Ensemble Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Conant Performing Arts Center [WEBSITE]
ID# 5532

SHOWING : June 28, 2019 - July 21, 2019



Set against the historical backdrop of Atlanta’s development in the mid-20th century, the story of aging Southern matron Daisy Werthan, her long-suffering son Boolie, and her chauffer Hoke Colburn unfolds over 25 years of friendship, loss, racial tension, and ultimately love. Bring a tissue and your best friend.

Director Laurel Crowe
Hoke Colburn Rob Cleveland
Daisy Werthan Ellen McQueen
Boolie Werthan Bill Murphey
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After the Ball
by playgoer
Sunday, June 30, 2019
Alfred Uhry’s "Driving Miss Daisy" is a perennial favorite in the Atlanta theatre scene. Its small cast, non-representational scenic requirements, and affecting story make it an easily-produced, familiar offering. Georgia Ensemble Theatre is attempting to make a go of a month-long run at Oglethorpe University, in the auditorium previously used by the Georgia Shakespeare ensemble of blessed memory. The significant drive from GET’s usual home base in Roswell and the over-familiarity of the script might make this a challenge.

Stephanie Polhemus’ scenic design is a tad more elaborate than it need be. Stage right we have a few steps of a staircase leading up to an impossibly long landing. In front of that there’s a love seat and easy chair and table, in the approximation of a living room. Stage left there’s a low platform with a bookcase, hall tree, and door frame, with a pay phone suggested behind them. A desk and two chairs in front of the platform suggest Boolie’s office, although the door, hall tree, and bookcase are also used as part of Miss Daisy’s house. Up center a large window frame is suspended. Down center there’s two stools used for the car scenes. At least from certain angles, it looks like the larger elements are slightly off-level, including two large light fixtures on either side of the stage.

Under Laurel Crowe’s direction, there are a lot of wordless moments in the show. Sometimes they’re underscored by music, mostly variations on the 1890’s hit song "After the Ball." The song makes sense only in the context of it being a popular hit from the girlhood of Daisy Werthan (Ellen McQueen). The sentiments of the song are antithetical to Miss Daisy’s history as a Jewish widow who bristles at the hint of any pretentiousness, although it could be considered to make an oblique inside-joke reference to Uhry’s "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." A couple of Christmas selections in Preston Goodson’s sound design set the scene for a holiday segment, but otherwise it’s pretty much all "After the Ball."

Connor McVey’s lighting design highlights the various locations in which scenes are played and provides pleasing colors on the cyclorama that backs the set. Emmie Tuttle’s costumes do all they need to, although they’re a bit basic, and hats tend to mess up the white wig that Ms. McQueen wears.

Performances are all good. Ms. McQueen has the scrawny looks of a woman who has denied herself luxuries in life, and her pinched-mouth scowl is perfect for the character. Rob Cleveland, playing her chauffeur Hoke, and William S. Murphey, as her son Boolie, have both been in multiple previous productions of "Driving Miss Daisy," and their comic timing is priceless. They come close to stealing the show, but Ms. McQueen definitely holds her own.

"Driving Miss Daisy" has long been a staple in the Atlanta market, but GET’s current production is one of the better presentations of the script. Its thoroughly professional production values ensure that the strengths of the story come through, although the extended wordless sections and 90-minute, intermissionless runtime combine to make it seem a bit insubstantial. Let’s hope that audiences don’t let it pass them by. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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