Driving Miss Daisy will make you glad you drove to the show

Hoke (Frank Goodloe III) befriends the sassy Miss Daisy (Rena Cherry Brown) in the CenterStage production of Driving Miss Daisy, (photos by Tara Cocco)

Acclaimed film critic Robert Ebert said it best when he wrote that the motion picture, Driving Miss Daisy, “is a film of great love and patience.”
That “love and patience” is clearly apparent in CenterStage’s adaptation of the 1989 comedy/drama. Frank Goodloe III and Rena Cherry Brown bring their characters, Hoke and Miss Daisy, to life in an honest and pure way.
Daisy is an elderly woman whose son believes should not be driving any longer after she crashes her car in her driveway. So he hires her a chauffeur, Hoke, who she believes she does not need, nor does she want.
Hoke, however, slowly persuades Daisy to allow him to take her where she needs to go and forges a lifelong friendship.
Brown’s portrayal of a proud old Jewish Southerner is top notch. The tone in her voice, the subtle looks and body language truly embody an elderly woman. From the moment she walked on stage to the final dimming of the lights, she delivered a performance to which any Southern woman could relate. Her simple mannerism, offhand comments delivered with sass and facial expressions combined to create a certain charisma you just can’t help but smile. I watched her live out her life, slowly giving in to the wills of Hoke, who successfully convinces her that she no longer needs to be behind the wheel of a car.
It truly was fun watching Brown deliver a performance of an elderly woman who ages from an alert widow in her 70s to an infirm woman drifting in and out of senility in her 90s.
Goodloe delivered an equally stellar portrayal of Hoke, Miss Daisy’s chauffer. He portrayed the role with charisma, style and hospitality. I sat in the audience wishing I had a companion like Hoke with whom to enjoy car rides.
Hired by Daisy’s son, Boolie, played by Andy Epstein, Hoke’s patience is unreal, and rather wise. To get her to the revelation that she need not drive, he simply, verbally agrees with her. Astonishingly enough, Daisy arrives at the conclusion rather quickly. Hoke’s hospitality, coupled with Daisy’s stubbornness, is a joy to watch as the two bond and become best friends.
It was truly a delight watching Goodloe, Brown and Epstein act alongside each other, bringing these characters to life. The chemistry between the cast is one that propelled the show to another level. As an audience member, I found myself attached to the characters in such a way that when Daisy first displays behaviors of mental illness, and Hoke calls Boolie, I truly felt sad for both men. In that same scene when Daisy tells Hoke he is her best friend, it was both heartwarming as well as heartbreaking given her deteriorating health.
You’re in for quite the show with Driving Miss Daisy. You’ll become attached to the characters and grow with them as they learn about each other over the course of 25 years. You’ll certainly laugh, you may not cry, but you will be glad you came.

(Performances of Driving Miss Daisy will be staged Monday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Click here for tickets.)

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