News Column

'Driving Miss Daisy' explores unlikely friendship

November 8, 2013

YellowBrix

Nov. 08--Sometimes friendship is found in unexpected places.

That's the idea behind "Driving Miss Daisy," the latest production by the Southeast Alabama Community Theatre. For those who haven't seen the 1989 movie that starred Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, the story - set in Atlanta, Ga. - follows the unlikely friendship that develops over several decades between an elderly white Jewish woman named Daisy Werthan and her black chauffeur, Hoke Colburn.

"It's a sweet, funny, sentimental experience for anybody that comes to the show," said David Gilligan, who is in his first role as director for the SEACT production.

Performances will be Nov. 12 to Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Cultural Arts Center in Dothan.

Based on the Pulitzer-winning 1987 play by Alfred Uhry, the movie version of "Driving Miss Daisy" won four Oscars, including the award for Best Picture.

Compared to other SEACT productions, "Driving Miss Daisy" is a small production with a primary cast of three and a backstage crew of only 10 people. SEACT veteran Margo Wright plays Daisy Werthan, Christopher Hutchins plays Hoke Coburn in only his second SEACT performance, and Joel Boyd plays Boolie Werthan in his first time out with the community theater group.

"We're not running away from the film by any stretch of the imagination," Gilligan said. "I think we'd be doing the film and the play a disservice to ignore it because Morgan Freeman originated the role ... not only on stage, but he played Hoke on screen as well."

But SEACT does put its own "flavor" on the play, he said.

"It's just a fabulous play," Gilligan said. "When you get to work with a play that's so well-written, it's really just a joy to present it."

And he said he's glad his SEACT directing debut was with a smaller cast and crew.

"One of the great things about community theater is for a period of time, a group of relative strangers get together to accomplish a goal - purely to entertain people that want to be entertained," Gilligan said. "When you can gather a group of people that are like-minded like that, and yet you don't really know them outside of this scope, it's a joy. It's a lot of fun."

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(c)2013 the Dothan Eagle (Dothan, Ala.)

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