It’s the character that made movie and stage actor Morgan Freeman a star.
In 1987, Freeman took to the stage in Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Driving Miss Daisy. Two years later, he would star in the film version of the play as the proud and affable Hoke Colburn, starring with Jessica Tandy as the stubborn and stately Jewish matriarch Miss Daisy, in what would be his first prominent film role, and an Oscar nominated one at that.
Greater Vernon audiences can buckle up to take a road trip to the deep south when these two beloved characters come back to life in Driving Miss Daisy, which stages at the Vernon Performing Arts Centre for one night only, Monday, Oct. 20.
The comedy-drama is the first of five plays in the Vernon Performing Arts Centre’s theatre series.
Spanning from 1948 to 1973 in Atlanta, Ga., Driving Miss Daisy reveals the power of the human heart to overcome prejudices and open up to new possibilities, said the play’s director Ashlie Corcoran.
Also artistic director at Thousand Islands Playhouse, Corcoran helmed Driving Miss Daisy earlier this year at the theatre in Gananoque, Ont. in partnership with Western Canada Theatre in Kamloops. The two theatres are currently producing the play at Kamloops’ Sagebrush Theatre before it comes to Vernon.
“This play examines different types of prejudice in society – against African Americans, Jews, the elderly and women. It also looks at the struggle to retain dignity in one’s old age,” said Corcoran.“The play explores these themes in a beautiful way, through the exploration of an unlikely friendship. We see a rigid professional relationship ripen into a deep friendship that gives Hoke and Daisy purpose through their golden years.”
In the Western Canada/Thousand Island’s production, Nicola Lipman takes on the role of Daisy Werthan, a wealthy widow who is reluctant to accept the help of the new chauffeur (played by Walter Borden) hired by her son Boolie (Brian Linds). But over the course of 25 years, they share humorous adventures and find their relationship blossoming from one of necessity to one of true friendship at a time when the law enforced segregation throughout the U.S.
That developing relationship has had an impact with audiences around the world and locally.
Daryl Cloran, artistic director of Western Canada Theatre, says he became emotional after reading Ulry’s script for the first time last year.
“By the time I got to the end of the script, tears were streaming down my face, and I knew we needed to bring this story to our audiences,” he said. “It’s such a funny, heartfelt story about people being good to each other. And about how friendship triumphs in the most unlikely places.”
Tickets for Driving Miss Daisy, staging at 7:30 p.m. at the Performing Arts Centre, are $45 for adults, $42 for seniors and $40 for students at the Ticket Seller, 549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca.