March 2012

Driving Miss Daisy - Opening Night Gala to benefit Arts and Education

Author: Marie Mcaden

For the sixth time in his 40-year career in theater, Bob Farley will direct one of his favorite plays— Driving Miss Daisy. The Arts Center of Coastal Carolina’s production, running March 16-April 1, will reunite Farley with the cast who performed in Atlanta’s critically acclaimed 20th anniversary revival of the show three years ago.

“It’s the perfect play,” said Farley, who co-founded and continues to serve as the artistic director of the Georgia Ensemble Theatre & Conservatory. “It gets the audience fully vested in what the characters are going through in the story.”

Alfred Uhry’s play, which won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, focuses on the decades-long relationship between a well-to-do Jewish matriarch and her kind-hearted chauffer.

A year after seeing the landmark 1987 New York debut of Miss Daisy, Farley brought the show to the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, staging the second production of the play ever. The production went on to become wildly successful, earning the distinction of running longer than any other show in the history of theater in the Southeast.

The story begins when Daisy, a widowed, 72-year-old woman living in midcentury Atlanta, is deemed too old to drive by her son, Boolie. Against her wishes, he hires Hoke, an African-American chauffer. What starts out as a bumpy ride, turns into a deep, life-altering relationship that transcends social barriers.

“You’ve got two very different people who don’t care for each other at all in the beginning, and in less than 88 minutes of stage time become best friends,” Farley said. “It’s a powerful, moving, inspiring story.”

In 1989, Uhry adapted the story for a film starring Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman and Dan Ackroyd, garnering him an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

“I love the movie, but the play is so much better because it only has three characters: Daisy, her chauffer Hoke and her son Boolie,” Farley explained. “All the other people come alive for you in your imagination. It’s much more vivid that way.”

For its big spring fundraising gala, the Arts Center is treating patrons to the Lowcountry premiere of the show, taking the classic “opening night” and glitzing it up with an elegant cocktail party and dinner.

“It’s going to be the social event of the season,” said Leslie Richardson, a member of the host committee organizing the fundraiser. “We’re transforming the lobby of the theater into Miss Daisy’s garden with beautiful spring flowers and greens.”

The March 16 party will start at 5:30 p.m. with a cocktail reception and silent auction. At 6:30 p.m., patrons will be invited into the Elizabeth Wallace Theatre for a live auction, featuring a small number of unique lots. Up for bid this year are a one-of-a-kind trips, private catered dinner parties and exclusive excursions.

The premiere of Driving Miss Daisy follows at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the premiere and dinner are $250. For patrons who just want to attend the cocktail reception and performance, tickets are available for $150 and $175. Proceeds from the fundraiser benefit the Arts Center and its education outreach programming. Call 686-3945, ext. 305, to make your reservations.

Following the opening night gala, Driving Miss Daisy will run another two weeks, from March 17-April 1. Performances are Tuesdays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $41 and can be purchased at www.artshhi.com or by calling 842-ARTS (2787).

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