If you think you need to go to New York City and plunk down $100 per ticket to experience great theater, think again. It’s right here in Middletown, for $10 per ticket. You’ll see professional-quality acting in a theater space so intimate and with such perfect acoustics, that the total experience far surpasses most of what you’ll get from any of the highbrow repertory companies.
The year is 1948. Daisy Werthan, a well-to-do Jewish widow in Atlanta has wrecked her car, prompting her businessman son Boolie to insist upon hiring a “colored” chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn, to drive his mother on her errands to the Piggly Wiggly supermarket and to Shabbat services at the Jewish temple. Of course, Daisy at first resists the arrangement and rejects Hoke’s services. But gradually she softens, and a new form of partnership and intimacy begins to emerge.
This is community theater at its best. It’s a story of tension, humor (the audience burst into laughter many dozens of times) and hushed tenderness as the relationship between Daisy and Hoke unfolds. The performances by Carolyn Kirsch as Miss Daisy, Richard Nelson as Hoke, and Nat Holmes as the practical Boolie are all excellent. Ms. Kirsch, in fact, is a professional actor with a long list of Broadway credits and other accomplishments, including the New Hampshire Theatre Award for Best Actress for her role as Amanda in “The Glass Menagerie” in 2008. Every moment in this one and a half hour performance of Driving Miss Daisy is interesting, the comedic timing of each actor is right on, the simple set works perfectly, and Daisy’s many costume changes evoke the multiple scenes, times of day, and seasons of the year. Especially poignant is how the characters age in the course of 25 years – Daisy from age 72 to 97 – and how their perspectives and priorities evolve in the process.
Driving Miss Daisy is a Vintage Players production to benefit Green Street Arts Center with 2 more performances. Friday night’s performance was sold out, but some tickets for tonight at 7 pm and Sunday, April 29, at 2 p.m. are still available. For reservations, call the Green Street Arts Center at 860-685-7797.