Driving Miss Daisy

Written on July 11th, 2016

A Beautiful Friendship

A heartwarming, well-directed, well-acted production of Driving Miss Daisy is on stage at the Victoria Playhouse in Petrolia.  Anyone wanting to see this play should order tickets immediately, because it will sell out thanks to the star-power of Michael Learned in the role of Daisy.

Michael Learned, you’ll recall, was TV’s Ma Walton on the long-running series The Waltons, the story of a family struggling through the 1930s Depression with a pack of kids who all said goodnight to each other.  This is the third time Lambton County has welcomed Michael Learned to the stage – she had the role of Miss Daisy in 2010 at Sarnia’s Imperial Theatre, and then in 2012, she and Pa Walton (the late Ralph Waite) presented a wonderful two person show, Love Letters, at VPP.  In both her past appearances, she was a hit and rightly so.Driving Miss Daisy

For anyone who missed the 1990 Oscar-winning movie Driving Miss Daisy with Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman and Dan Aykroyd, this play will be a special treat.  But even if you know the story, it is still a delight on stage.  It starts sometime in the 1950s and spans a period into the 1980s. The story opens as Daisy crashes her car, and her son Boolie decides she needs a chauffeur. A crusty old girl, Daisy resists having a driver.  But Boolie hires Hoke who eventually breaks through her tough exterior.  An unlikely friendship develops between the elderly pair – a Jewish woman and her African-American chauffeur, both of them having faced prejudice.  You leave the theatre thinking about the importance of friendships through difficult times and the aging process.

At 77 Ms. Learned remains a brilliant actress, portraying Daisy perfectly.  We watch Daisy age convincingly from 72 to 96 before our eyes. Ms. Learned makes us love Daisy despite her crotchety attitude.  Neville Edwards is wonderful as Hoke.  We see him grow as he befriends Miss Daisy, and he is able to assert himself as segregation slowly dissipates.  Darren Keay as Boolie provides the comic relief in this otherwise sensitive play.

Credit goes to director David Hogan for giving us this realistic education in human relationships and Southern U.S. history.  In light of current racial tensions, this play provides a small ray of hope. Driving Miss Daisy is a must-see.

Driving Miss Daisy continues at Victoria Playhouse Petrolia until July 24.  Call the box office at 1-800-717-7694 or 519-882-1221 for tickets or visit www.thevpp.ca

Photo: Michael Learned as Miss Daisy, Neville Edwards as Hoke.  Photo by Diane O’Dell.

Driving Miss Daisy
By Alfred Uhry
Directed by David Hogan
Performed by Michael Learned, Neville Edwards and Darren Keay
Victoria Playhouse Petrolia
July 5 to 24, 2016
Reviewed by Mary Alderson

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