Monday, June 21, 2010

Miss Daisy Drives Into Town

They're all here. Director Andrew Lamb, actors Jillian Cook, Alan Bomar Jones & Mark Terene, stage manager Melissa Novecosky... they're all here, settled in, and completed the first day of table talk, reading, a bit of idea swapping, costume fitting, and so forth.

Our 'Meet & Greet' group this morning was small-ish, but so positive, so welcoming. And the treat they got from attending the reading! Oh, my.

Ohhhh my.

I'm not normally at a loss for words. But I really don't think I can do justice to how warm, funny, moving, insightful, breathtaking the first reading by this cast was. Playwright Alfred Uhry (who won the Pulitzer Prize for this play) describes DRIVING MISS DAISY as "truth as he knows it". The truth is haunting and thought provoking, but it's also funny and engaging, while at the same time querulous and demanding. It's so... true!

There is still a two week rehearsal period to finesse so much, to flesh out the characters, to find the strengths and weaknesses in the lives we will follow on stage. Much can, and should, change between this morning and our first public performance on 7th July at 2:00pm. But I believe that these changes will be improvements, they will make these actors stronger & better, the sets will be wonderously powerful aids in the story telling, the lights will enhance the moods, the sounds will carry the audience along the 25 years that tells the tale of Miss Daisy, Hoke and Boolie.

I believe... no, I promise that the SFT production oF DRIVING MISS DAISY will be one of those shows that sticks with you, one that you will remember for years to come, one that will make you grateful you came to Stirling to see it.

Pretty bold promise, eh?

I think that all the work we do here at the Stirling Theatre is top drawer, I really do. I know you're thinking "it's her job to think the best of the theatre's work", but if I didn't believe it, you wouldn't be reading it. I'd find some other way to talk about the shows we present, the plays we produce.

We work very hard to find and create wonderful entertainment experiences for all our audience members. And DRIVING MISS DAISY is one of those shows that truly will appeal to all our audience members, of every age and every walk of life. And I have a bit of a story to tell you so that you'll know why I think coming to see DRIVING MISS DAISY could be so important to you.

About 30 years ago, Jeff & I had the extraordinary pleasure of seeing a production in Boston of DEATH OF A SALEMAN starring Dan Frazier (who most people remember from his role on "Kojak", as the Captain). It was remarkable, not in the least because it really awakened in my husband a real appreciation for and enjoyment of live, professional theatre.

Five years after that performance, Jeff was working on a building in downtown New York, and Dan Frazier, who by then was a cast regular on a CBS soap opera, stopped for a few minutes to watch him tiling this Japanese restaurant. They got to chatting a little bit, mostly about tile and grout, but then Jeff asked him outright, "Are you Dan Frazier?"

Mr Frazier admitted he was, and Jeff said he seemed to be ready for him (Jeff) to make some lollipop reference to "Kojak".

And then Jeff told Mr Frazier that seeing him in DEATH OF SALESMAN back in Boston those several years ago had stayed with him right to that late spring day in New York (and I can tell you, even since then). The performance we attended had suffered a black out with just a few minutes to go before final curtain, and the cast kept going. We, the audience, thought it was an odd way to finish the play, but not necessarily out of character with what was happening, and Jeff told him that we were there that afternoon, how much we enjoyed it, how much the play especially meant to Jeff.

Jeff said Mr Frazier's smile was enormous, as he thanked Jeff for remembering before they shook hands, and he walked on.

I believe you will have, enjoy, and share one of those seminal moments in theatre when you come see DRIVING MISS DAISY, at the Stirling Theatre in beautiful downtown Stirling, Ontario 7th - 10th of July, and the following week 13th - 17th July. Please join us.

No comments:

Post a Comment