BLT presents ‘Driving Miss Daisy’
The first production of the 50th anniversary for Brookhaven Little Theatre prominently parks on its stage at the end of September with “Driving Miss Daisy.” The small cast intends to fill big shoes following highly successful seasons for the community theater during recent years.
“Driving Miss Daisy” features two Miss Daisy actresses — Sue Junkin and Pat Young — her “son” played by Kris Douglas and her driver “Hoke” played by Jeff Bryant. The play is directed by JoAnna Sproles, who said this is by far the smallest cast she has worked and such a situation has had its advantages.
“When people get together and put on a play, they always comment about how close knit they become and, really, end up feeling like family,” Sproles said. “This little family has become one of my all time favorite group of people to work around. This play is not about the special effects or big dance numbers. It is all about the conversation between people through their acting skills and this cast is so worth watching.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning script “Driving Miss Daisy” by Alfred Uhry tells the story of a wealthy, elderly Jewish woman years after her husband’s death left coping with her own issues of aging. The play, set in Atlanta during the late 1940s, spans a 30-year time-frame with true old-fashioned southern charm.
The play opens with Miss Daisy wrecking her barely month-old car. As her son, Boolie, tries to convince her that it is time to turn over her keys for a hired chauffeur, she is adamant that she will not succumb to diminishing old age. Once the chauffeur has been hired, the relationship between Daisy and Hoke builds. Through twists and turns over the years, their building
friendship defies all odds — particularly race relations in a turmoiled South. The play is filled with anxious, humorous and tender moments.
Junkin, who has been in multiple productions over the years at BLT, said the small cast has been enjoyable to work with over the past few months.
“I think I really like working with a smaller cast,” Junkin said. “The relationships are much more intimate, which benefits this story well. I have also enjoyed working with new castmates.”
Hoke is an acting debut for Bryant. He said his first time on the BLT stage has proven to be a rewarding challenge for him.
“This experience has been an absolute thrill for me. I’m naturally introverted so I never thought that I would be participating in anything like this.” Bryant said. “This will be an experience I will never forget.”
The last time Young was involved in a BLT play was about 16 years ago when she directed “As the Crow Flies.” In fact, one of the castmates in that play was Sproles — now her director for “Daisy.”
“This play is a very telling, and at times humorous, example of taking care of elderly parents, like Daisy,” Young said. “The whole point of being in a play is to have fun with it. We are not going win Tony Awards for our efforts, so the goal really is to get and give joy from it.”
Douglas is not new to the theater at BLT and said the chemistry with this particular cast is phenomenal.
“This play has been so fun to work with and we are excited to bring a few months of long practices to the stage for our audiences,” Douglas said. “It has been so enjoyable to work on this story.”
Bryant commented that the overall message for the play has a life lesson attached to it.
“I think the audience will be reminded that in the world together despite our differences it is important for us to relate to each other in some way,” he said. “We hope everyone will enjoy the overall appeal to human nature that this play speaks to.”
Other crew members include assistant director Bradford Carr, sound and lighting director Tommy Sproles, and stage manager/prop master Sarah Lloyd. Hair and makeup is provided by Jessica Scott. Set construction was completed by Tim Shann and Owen Junkin. Anna Leggett assisted with set dressing and Emily Waterloo helped with producer responsibilities and costuming.
The Miss Daisy characters — Junkin and Young — will alternate performances throughout the two weekends. The play performs Sept. 29, 30 and Oct. 1, then again on Oct. 6, 7 and 8. Friday and Saturday night performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets for each performance are available now online at www.brookhavenlittletheatre.com. Audience members purchasing online can choose the seat they wish to occupy. General admission seats may also be purchased at the door for $20.