Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself. – Doris Lessing

Go forth into the unknown, explore the caves of your unconscious, fear not your “dark side,” find the gold.

— Robin Hoffman (@AuthorAlchemy)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Driving Miss Daisy on stage

THIS EVENING WE attended the Oakland Center for the Arts (Youngstown, Ohio) for a performance of Driving Miss Daisy directed by Terri Wilkes.

The show started on time, which was much appreciated. The previous play we attended (not at the Oakland) started early and we missed part of the first scene. A bit disorienting when you come in knowing zero about the story line.

I’ve never seen the movie for Driving Miss Daisy so was a newcomer to this story. Glancing at the program before the lights went down, I was interested to learn this was a Pulitzer-winning play (1988) before it became a movie.

The play featured only three characters: Miss Daisy (Molly Galano), her son Boolie (Eric Kibler) and her chauffeur, Hoke (Johnny R. Herbert).

I had to strain a bit to hear the first few lines and feared it would be a strain throughout the play. But my ears quickly adjusted to the acoustics and it was not a problem after that.

This is a lively play, dialogue-wise, and the actors were excellent. I soon forgot I was watching only three performers on a largely unchanging set—I was too busy laughing. I laughed and chuckled almost non-stop and wished the rest of the audience would have been a little more giving in this department.

At the end of Noises Off!—a wonderful play we attended during the winter in Salem, Ohio—one of the actors had explained how supportive it is for the cast of a comedy to have feedback coming from the audience and he expressed thanks for all the laughter.

Perhaps some folks believe it’s rude to create noise from the audience and that’s why the laughter was only scattered. But, come to think of it, I notice the same thing at the movies. Cinema audiences, for the most part, seem so repressed!

Fortunately, most of the Driving Miss Daisy crowd warmed up by about mid-point. My husband was chuckling from the get-go and I’d been worried he only went to please me.

The only time I wasn’t laughing was during various tragic moments when the theme of prejudice was rendered in all its starkness. The actors did a great job with the mood changes. Goose bumps flooded my body as I felt the darkness of these human tendencies.

There was only one set change, when Miss Daisy’s “car” (a simple arrangement of chairs, plus an actual trunk to represent the trunk of the car) was transformed in a simple way that helped show her advancing age.

The sound effects were enjoyable and perfectly timed. The images projected on the back wall of the stage helped tell the story. Black and white stills showed the change in car models over the period of the story, along with a synagogue and other relevant buildings. The face of Martin Luther King was shown briefly to drive home the poignancy that underlies this story.

The cast received a standing ovation and they deserved it. I was more than happy to jump out of my seat and join in.

I also enjoyed filling out the survey provided by the Oakland, but there wasn’t much to suggest in the way of improvements. Not even by me, the gal who loves to give feedback!

All I could think to scrawl in the Comments section was “Everything was excellent!”

And we shall return.

Next up: Reefer Madness The Musical, May 1 – 16.


The Stage said...

Thank you so much for your wonderful comments! As a small, non-profit theater, we thrive on word of mouth reviews and feedback, so your blog is greatly appreciated! So glad you and your hubby could check out the show, and we look forward to seeing you again! Thanks also for your interest in the Oakland Book Club -- can't wait to meet you at the next meeting! I will blogroll you and add you to the email list. Thanks so much again for all the positive vibes! We love it! :)

-- Brooke (President of the Board of Directors)

khia213 said...

One: I'm not a sound man. I'm a woman.
Two: There is no applause at the end of Boolie's joke. Didn't miss the cue. There isn't one.

Thanks for the praise for the show and come back to the Oakland soon.

Milli Thornton said...

Thanks, khia213. I corrected my review. I apologize for the confusion.

khia213 said...

You know, in my many years of theater, I have never seen someone correct a review. You are truly refreshing! I am appreciative. Thanks for the correction.

Milli Thornton said...

@khia213 I believe in creative people supporting one another whenever we can, and that's why I wrote the review in the first place (a) for my own pleasures of expression (b) to recommend a great show. I felt bad about misrepresenting you in my interpretation of the show and I put myself in your shoes. How do I feel whenever someone misunderstands my creative work? Well . . . misunderstood! :0)

I'm pleased you found the correction refreshing and thank you for letting me know.

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