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Driving Miss Daisy at Cinnabar Theater Petaluma REVIEW by Harry Duke

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 “Driving Miss Daisy”
@ Cinnabar Theater Petaluma

REVIEW by Harry Duke

EXTENDED RUN to November 8

Review: “Driving Miss Daisy” @ Cinnabar Theater Petaluma – by Harry Duke

Like a favored old book pulled down for a read from the dusty upper shelf of a home library, “Driving Miss Daisy” returns to a Sonoma County stage. Petaluma’s Cinnabar Theater has dusted off the community theatre staple, spruced it up, and is presenting it through November 8.

Originally produced off-Broadway in 1987, the Alfred Uhry Pulitzer Prize-winning play is probably best known for its 1989 film adaption starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. The film is significantly different from the original play, particularly with the addition of multiple characters that are mentioned (but never seen) in the play, but the heart of the story remains. It is this heart that is well presented on the Cinnabar stage.

Dorian Lockett, John Browning“Driving Miss Daisy” examines the changes, both cultural and personal, that happen over 25 years as expressed through the lives of Daisy Werthan (Laura Jorgensen), her son Boolie (John Browning), and Hoke Coleburn (Dorian Lockett). Hoke is hired by Boolie to chauffer Miss Daisy around after an automobile accident. At first resistant to the idea, Daisy eventually warms to Hoke, and it is through this relationship that issues of class, race , religion, aging and the inevitability of change are addressed.

Director Nathan Cummings has assembled a fine group to perform this three character play. Laura Jorgensen is perfectly cast as Daisy. Ms. Jorgensen convincingly plays Miss Daisy from feisty to infirmed with subtle physical choices and a look that communicates as much as a page of dialogue. Dorian Lockett’s Hoke is a pillar of decency and rectitude, yet possessive of a sly sense of humor. Mr. Lockett, who did much with a small roll in Cinnabar’s production of “Of Mice and Men”, steps quite comfortably into a lead role here. In what is essentially a battle of “equals”, Jorgensen and Lockett complement each other well. John Browning makes his Cinnabar debut in this production. While the role of “Boolie” is essentially a thankless role, a means by which to bring Daisy and Hoke together, Mr. Browning gives it his all, and is given a moment or two to shine himself.

Laura Jorgensen, Dorian Lockett

In a pre-show discussion, director Cummings stated the greatest challenge presented to him by this production were the scene transitions, as the play is a series of vignettes that shift from Daisy’s home, to Boolie’s office, to the car and back again. Well, he met that challenge and then some because a production that spans 25 years in the life of its characters clocked in at one hour and fifteen minutes from lights up to curtain call. That being said, this production did not feel rushed in any way, and it was quite interesting to see the passage of years be simply represented on occasion by the silhouette of a tree going from full bloom to leafless.

If you’re looking for the theatrical equivalent of a “comfort read”, Cinnabar Theater’s “Driving Miss Daisy” would be a good selection. A familiar story, a talented cast, and efficient direction combine to make for a very comfortable, very pleasant evening of theatre.

Driving Miss Daisy

through November 8

Friday @ 8pm / Saturday @ 8pm / Sunday @ 2pm / Saturday, November 1 @ 2pm

Cinnabar Theater
3333 Petaluma Blvd N
Petaluma, CA 94952

(707) 763-8920

www.cinnabartheater.org

Photos by Eric Chazankin

Live Theater REVIEW by Harry Duke