Director Gary Seddon’s interpretation of “Driving Miss Daisy” is on stage at the Charlotte Players Langston Playhouse through Jan. 19.
The story takes place in Atlanta, Ga., in 1948, and concerns Daisy Werthan, a rich, sharp-tongued Jewish widow who has her driving privileges taken away by her son Boolie after she demolishes her car. Boolie hires Hoke Colburn, a thoughtful black man, to be her chauffeur.
Over a span of 25 years, despite their differences, the two grow to be close friends, sharing laughs and tears, and realize they have more in common than they ever believed possible.
“I think it’s pretty poignant play, even though it takes place in an earlier time,” Seddon said. “It deals not only with personal relationships among the characters, but with social issues as well. And some of those issues are still with us, so it’s still very relevant.”
Many will recall the Oscar-winning film starring Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman and Dan Aykroyd or the award-winning play with Tandy, Julie Harris, Wendy Hiller, Vanessa Redgrave and Angela Lansbury as Miss Daisy at various times.
“I’m delighted that our own Miss Daisy is Paula Pender, a very talented actress and director who has been a Players supporter and volunteer for many years,” said Players Executive Director Sherrie Moody.
As for Hoke, Miss Daisy’s chauffeur, Seddon cast Carl Bowman, who delighted audiences under Pender’s direction as one of the linguistics instructors in last year’s production of “Singin’ in the Rain.” Boolie is played by Ian Bisset, a master of dialect who handles acting, directing, stage managing and sound with equal aplomb. Designer Chris Smith’s minimalist set focuses the audience’s attention on the talented cast.
“I love the script,” said Seddon, “and we have three veteran actors bringing it to life.”
American playwright Alfred Uhry adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning play into the screenplay for the 1989 film, for which the three leads all were nominated for Academy Awards, with Tandy winning as Best Actress. The film also won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Screenplay.
“We’re expecting some sell-outs,” said Moody, “so people should get their tickets now.”