Dillon renders heartfelt version of ‘Driving Miss Daisy’
summit daily news
When Christopher Alleman asked Mare Trevathan if she wanted to direct “Driving Miss Daisy,” she was thrilled to work with the Lake Dillon Theatre again, where she triumphantly presented the one-woman show “The Good Body” a couple years ago. But she wasn’t sure about the actual story; she only knew it from the 1989 movie, which she remembered “as a bit schmaltzy, preachy and even trite,” she said.
But in reading the script, she found something much different – and has translated it to the Dillon stage brilliantly. She shies from sentimentality toward restraint, relying on the talent of actors Harvy Blanks (a Denver Center company member since 1985), Chris Reid (also a Denver actor) and Diane Gadomski (who has delivered strong portrayals locally).
The story begins when Boolie (Reid) takes away his 72-year-old mother’s driving privileges when she manages to crash into the garage, the tool shed and another car. He hires Hoke (Blanks) as a driver, and though Miss Daisy (Gadomski) denies she’s prejudice, she gives him the cold shoulder for awhile, giving new meaning to “back-seat driver” and going so far to accuse him of stealing. As Hoke points out, “It only took six days (for Miss Daisy to get in the car with him) – same time it (took) the Lord to make the world.”
But when Hoke reveals his vulnerability, it opens a door for Miss Daisy to find a new sense of compassion and purpose, which touches Hoke deeply.
While the underlying subject matter can be deep and disturbing, the actual rendering of the story is engaging, funny and well-paced, and the characters, though sometimes flawed, come across as personable and likable. The language is easy in a Southern style, and humorous from the start, as Miss Daisy’s son explains to her that “cars don’t behave; they are behaved upon.”
Overall, playwright Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer-winning play (1988) becomes much more accessible and human on stage than on film. As his first departure from musical shows, Uhry tapped into a poignant story that remains as relevant now as it was during the time period it covers, from 1948 to 1973.
“I wrote what I knew to be true, and people have recognized it as such,” Uhry wrote in his preface to the published script.
In an Associated Press story recently, Uhry said, “Sadly, it is still relevant – maybe even more relevant than it was when I wrote it. Even though we have a black president, people are very much right now in this country known for what they are instead of who they are: They’re black, they’re Jews, they’re Muslim, they’re tea party. Those are just labels, and I think that is what I was trying to get at. You’ve got to get under the label and look at the person. That’s necessary today, more than ever I think.”
“I hope we are clear and clean in our storytelling,” Trevathan said, “that people have a really entertaining ride watching this evolving relationship, but that it’s this complicated, complex social backdrop that makes people talk on the way home.”
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