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Driving Miss Daisy

a Comedy/Drama
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA
by Alfred Uhry

COMPANY : Big Top Productions
VENUE : Big Top Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 1476

SHOWING : January 20, 2006 - February 05, 2006

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Written by Alfred Uhry and Directed by Judy Leavell. Winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize and Outer Critic's Circle Awards for Best Off-Broadway Play. A heartwarming, humorous study of the unlikely friendship between a crotchety white Southern lady and a proud soft-spoken black man.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Judy Leavell
Daisy JoAllen Bradham
Boolie Len Hedges-Goettl
Hoke Scott Spivey
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

it's a doodle
by Okely Dokely
Sunday, February 5, 2006
4.0
I was torn between giving this a 3.5 and a 4, but aw hell, I'm in a good mood, you guys get your 4.

At Big Top, I have previously seen A Funny Thing Happened...Forum and Fools, and DMD was easily the best Big Top show I've seen, and this - more than ever - makes me want to come back. I had some nit-picky things of course, but I can't deny that some powerful stuff was going on on that stage.

JoAllen Bradham, who I came really close to naming the Best Supporting Actress of 2005 for her tremendous work in Fools, plays Miss Daisy. She did a great job for the most part. My theory on why I have criticisms for this production is because it involved me so much, that I got a tremendous amount out of it, good and bad. I've had some directors say "remember, no notes is good notes" and I don't always agree with that. After those run-throughs where I haven't gotten any notes, at times I feel as if my performance wasn't interesting enough to inspire constructive comments or make them pay that much attention. That being said, Ms. Bradham sometimes had a tendency to speak too slowly to the point where the director in me wanted to start snapping. There were also some points where her performance could have been more layered, i.e. some of the scenes with her son Boolie, where she seemed too one-note and crotchety for me to believe that she was a mother speaking to her son. In those moments, Daisy should be firm but loving, and all that translated to me was firm. A great director told me recently that if you're doing anything on stage just to be funny, that's the wrong reason to be doing it. JoAllen played up a few moments for laughs too much, like in the Bauer scene in the cemetery where she's pronouncing the name for Hoke. I just felt she was trying a little too hard, and her desperation for laughs came through. With all that out of the way, she looked the part, never faltered or stammered with her words, and was quite a worthy Daisy. Did I think she surpassed her Mrs. Zubritsky from Fools? No. Will I remember her name now, unlike last December, when I had to go back and research to find out "what was the name of that lady from Fools that I liked so much"? Yes. Do I want to see her again? You betcha.

Scott Spivey, while not quite the possessing the presence or the magnitude of Morgan Freeman or the great Hokes of the past, conveyed the likeability and honesty of the chauffeur. His performance didn't blow me away, but it's still one he should be proud of.

Len Hedges-Goettl was overall a good Boolie, but he had some moments where he hammed a bit too much, and during the scenes where he's frustrated with Daisy, he too yelled, raised his voice, and seemed more violent and scary than loving. I've always thought "you're a doodle, mama" is one of the classic movie lines of all time. That simple phrase says so much, in my opinion. "You do things that frustrate, anger, infuriate, make me laugh, make me happy, make me sad, etc. but the bottom line is, I love you anyway. You're you, and that's what's great about you." is what I've always gotten out of that line.

As I said, this was not a production that didn't inspire comments from me: I thought the phone situation was confusing. In trying to make us believe he's using a pay phone outside the Piggly Wiggly, Hoke picks up the phone from the desk on the set of Boolie's office, and mimes dialing it. I must say this is the first time in my life that I've ever seen somebody half-miming a prop and half-using-it-for-real. A simple solution to this would have been to build a pay phone (nothing too fancy), and put it on the stage level. And when it's not being used as a pay phone, make it so you can take part of it off that would suggest that it's a pay phone, if that makes any sense. Those couple of times that Len came on carrying a phone that was not plugged in totally didn't work for me. There were a few unnecessary black-outs, too. If you want to acknowledge the passing of time, it may work better to slowly fade from cue to cue rather than old cue, go to black, new cue. I did appreciate that the brief cigar smoking was done for real. I saw Twelve Angry Men at the Cobb Playhouse recently, and it was obvious that stage cigarettes were used. Either smoke for real or don't smoke at all, because it's obvious when you're faking it. The degrees on the wall of Boolie's office was a nice touch. I walked over during intermission, and Boolie's name and signature were on both of them. The sound design was wonderful. That was the best version of Yesterday I've ever heard, aside from the Beatles original version, of course. The only sound issue would be in the famous "make water" scene. The level of the crickets/etc. sound effect was too abrupt. It went from nothing at all to suddenly very loud. Also, when Hoke exits to make water, he leaves through the set of Boolie's office. I would have preferred he went between the flats of the set, which would have better signified him going into the woods. Somehow, him going into the hallway of Boolie's office to pee didn't sit well with me.

I have to mention the scene towards the end where Daisy is starting to lose her mind, and Hoke tries to comfort her. You know, the one that takes place in her home where apparently she has "most of what I want out of here" because she's moving, and yet all the paintings are still on the wall, and most everything else is still where it has been the whole time. Hoke and Daisy are in their 90s in this scene, and I must say, they are in awfully good shape for that age with the positions they get into. They end up on the floor squatting very low/sitting on their knees. I'm 24 and even I get sore doing that. Maybe they were setting us up for the sequel, where they join Cirque du Soleil.

Still though, the underlying sweetness of the movie is successfully conveyed here. I had a grandmother who somewhat lost her mind the couple of years before she died, and was sent to a rest home. There's a line in the show where Daisy is asked "Are you keeping busy?" That question got tossed around the nursing home a lot in my personal experience. I always despised it with a passion - it had such a cruel and bittersweet tone to it when asked of someone who has been sent to die. I remembered that line from the movie, then forgot it, but remember it again.

Yes, I had comments about the production like I always do. But Big Top's DMD struck some strong chords with me, and this is undoubtedly a powerful play with moments that will really resonate, and this staging was no exception. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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