Silver screen to the small stage: Driving Miss Daisy
Popularized by Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, this tender story of unlikely friendship has been touching hearts for 30 years. Driving Miss Daisy runs at The Village Playhouse through February 24th at Inspiration Studios in West Allis.
This adaptation of the well-loved tale is told through a series of short vignettes, punctuated by moments familiar to fans and warm to those new to the story. While this script lacks a sense of continuity and conclusiveness from start to end, it does evoke the feeling of the friendships within.
Mary Buchel and Andre Lee Ellis in Driving Miss Daisy.
Andre Lee Ellis plays Hoke Coleburn, who has been hired to drive Miss Daisy as her own spacial awareness declines with age. His performance is exuberant and friendly - Ellis's Hoke is family before Miss Daisy acknowledges him as such.
In the title role, Mary Buchel maintains deliberate pace with her exuberant scene partner. Buchel never drops her poise. This script does not dwell or lean heavily into Miss Daisy's prejudice as a character flaw, and therefore doesn't give Daisy Werthan much to overcome, but we do see Daisy transform from a cold reclusive sort into a warm and social being, all without taking her witty edge from the dialogue.
Some adjustments in the set (designed by director Mary Breitrick) could be made to reflect the wealth of the Werthan family, a subject which is frequently alluded to in the piece. However, Nikki Martich's costume design upholds the stylings of the era and suspends disbelief.
Andre Lee Ellis and Mary Buchel in Driving Miss Daisy.
Overall, Breitrick's small stage rendition of a cinematic classic is rather cut down, but it holds true to the themes of the famous story. The Village Playhouse sold out for their run, and made for another successful play in the books. Join the group in April for their take on Molière's farcical classic, Tartuffe!