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2nd Space production captures audience’s hearts

Courtesy Emily Pessano

Airing as a 1989 hit movie, Driving Miss Daisy, comes to life on the 2nd Space theatre stage, Jan. 4 – Feb. 24.

The 1989 hit movie, “Driving Miss Daisy” follows the sweet relationship of a spunky older Jewish women and her African-American chauffeur in the American South. 2nd Space Theater performs their own version of the popular story, Jan. 4 – Feb. 24, 2019.

Good Company Players began live performances out of a Hilton Hotel in the early 70s. Their popularity has grown over the years and and they now control two separate theaters, 2nd Space Theater and Roger Rocka’s. The two theaters together produce 12 shows a year.

2nd Space Theatre is the smaller and more intimate of the two venues. With a mere cast of three and crew of 23, Driving Miss Daisy captured the audience with it’s sweet story and lovable characters. The production follows the story of a feisty elderly lady, Miss Daisy (Mary Piona), who wants to hold onto her independence as long as possible. After destroying her car and the fault being entirely her own, the insurance company requires her to cease driving.

Her son, Boolie Werthan (Billy Anderson) hires a driver despite his mother’s adamant protest. After a six day standoff, Miss Daisy finally consents to letting the chauffeur drive her to the store. Chauffeur Hoke Coleburn (Ed Burke), is a confident and kind man in his 70s. He doesn’t put up with any of Miss Daisy’s attitude and respectfully banters back and forth with her, throughout the play.

Walking into the theatre as a high-schooler I was quickly caught off-guard by the audience. While the seats were nearly full, there was obviously a targeted audience age, and it did not come within 30 years of my own. The seats themselves were close together but still rather comfortable for the hour and a half long show. I enjoyed the way these actors were able to captivate the audience through their wit and development of the relationship between Miss Daisy and her driver, Hoke.

The production itself was well written, however, if I hadn’t watched the movie beforehand the heart of the story would be considerably harder to follow. The actors portrayed each of their characters deeply, following the theme of the show closely. However with only a three-man-cast it becomes difficult to find great depth in the aspects of the changing era.

Piona did a fantastic job. I immediately imagined her as the little spunky lady from the movie, despite the drastic difference in appearance. Through her quirky outbursts and emotion-filled expressions you quickly understood the kind of women she was. I missed the presence of Miss Daisy’s housekeeper. The maid in the movie created a deeper understanding of the way Miss Daisy preferred to live her life.

Charming and perfect describes how Burke portrayed Hoke. However, I felt he was somewhat quiet and needed to speak with more passion. This would’ve added more depth to his character, and given a better understanding of their relationship. Burke did a sensational job holding the audience’s attention with relatable lines, witty comebacks, and a warm smile.

Courtesy Emily Pessano

Actor Mary Piona delights audiences with her performance as Miss Daisy, a feisty old women determined to hold onto her independence.

Anderson obviously understood the character and knew the relationship between mother and son. Through his physical appearance and personal presentation, he perfectly captured Boolie’s personality. However, the character and nature of Boolie’s wife in regards to Miss Daisy seemed highly downplayed on stage. The absence of Boolie’s wife left out an important aspect of the relationship between himself and his mother.

Each scene was created with a very small amount of physical props, but each piece was well placed and helped quickly portray the scene. The quick two-person set changes helped keep the production moving along. The play itself only lasted about an hour and half with a 15 minute intermission, but by then you really are ready for a breathe of fresh air.

Overall, 2nd Space Theatre’s production of Miss Daisy is an enjoyable way to spend a simple afternoon or evening. However, with general admission at $20 a ticket, it seems a bit steep for the short and rather underdeveloped play you’re experiencing. For anyone interested in seeing the play, I highly suggest watching the movie first to aid in following the storyline.

The play will be running Jan. 4 – Feb. 24. Tickets can be purchased at Good Company – Driving Miss Daisy. Second Space Theaters next production will be “A Shot In The Dark” beginning March 1. For any questions regarding the theatre call the box office at (559) 266-0660.

For more articles read “The Greatest Showman seeks to captivate audiences once more” and “Living to see the dream, community remembers Martin Luther King, Jr”

Annaleise Anderson can be reached via Twitter and email.

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Slideshow below features pictures from Driving Miss Daisy at Second Space Theatre

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