Those familiar with Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play may know that it is Daisy Werthan’s crash of her Packard (not Rolls) that occasions her son, Boolie, to hire a driver for her to navigate the Atlanta neighborhood in which she makes her home. He interviews and hires an out of work, soft-spoken Black man to present to his genteel but opinionated Southern Jewish mother: and the two are a study in contrasts. Thus begins 25-year relationship that unfolds on stage as the two tentatively at first, then tenaciously, build a friendship that endures the many differences of their initial meeting.
Driving Miss Daisy has absorbed audiences since its off-Broadway opening in 1987, productions meandering their way from three national tours, to an Oscar-nominated film, to London’s West End, and a Broadway opening – finally – in 2010. Productions on stage and in film have offered powerful performances, pairing Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman in the film (with Dan Ackroyd as Boolie); Freeman originated Hoke in the off-Broadway debut with Dana Ivey as Miss Daisy, and when it came to Broadway it was James Earle Jones and Vanessa Redgrave, with Boyd Gaines.
The new production at Jean’s in Lincoln brings three remarkable professional actors together. First, Margaret Bush as Miss Daisy. Maggie may be remembered by Lincoln audiences for her previous roles in Steel Magnolias and On Golden Pond, and by audiences from Maine to Florida over a career spanning 20 years or more. Derek Livingston traveled from Las Vegas to Lincoln for this production. An accomplished actor, director, and former artistic director for the West Coast Celebration Theatre, Livingston brings much experience and maturity to the role that demands nuance and complexity. Jason Plourde’s work may be familiar to NH audiences and beyond, but this is his debut on a North Country stage and audiences will appreciate the humor and frustration of Boolie as the only son of a demanding mother. And the talented trio are being guided by the experienced hand and sensibility of Director Sharon Paquette. A NH Theatre ‘Best Professional Director’ winner and previously Jean’s Artistic Director, her work is well known to the region and beyond – not only as a stage director but also performer, faculty member at Plymouth State University, and director for college productions throughout the state.
The fifth show of Jean’s professional summer/fall Season, Driving Miss Daisy will open on Thursday, September 27, with only seven performances through October 6; and with the matinee performance already approaching sell-out, audiences are recommended to call ahead for tickets at 603-745-2141, or order online at www.jeansplayhouse.com
The original North Country Center for the Arts in Lincoln grew into the Jean’s Playhouse facility after the close of their original ‘paper mill’ building, and continues the heritage and commitment to offering top notch professional theatre and live entertainment year round from their location in the heart of the White Mountains, at 34 Papermill Drive, Lincoln, NH.