Monday, June 15, 2015

Driving Miss Daisy

Playwright:  Alfred Uhry

Running Time: 1 hours, 45 minutes (no intermission). 

Date of Performance:  Saturday, June 13, 2015. 

Driving Miss Daisy at the Cherry Creek Theatre has set some records for the first two weekends of its run.  It sold out opening night.  It sold out opening weekend.  It sold out all three performances on the second weekend.  From what I saw, it will sell out the entire run, so if you have the faintest interest in seeing a splendid production of a beautiful script, buy your tickets now.  You will not be disappointed, unless you are unable to score a seat at Driving Miss Daisy.

Billie McBride (Miss Daisy).
The cast is small; only three actors.  Those three actors combine, however, for what is best described as an “All Star” cast.  Billie McBride plays Daisy; she is well known in Colorado theaters as a polished professional with a long resume.  Billie has a number of Broadway and off Broadway credits, including Torch Song Trilogy, and a substantial list of television credits.  Cajardo Lindsey (Hoke) is a company member at Curious Theatre and probably has a trophy case at home full of his numerous awards.  Mark Collins (Boolie) is a well known actor in the Denver area, having recently appeared in Jerusalem and The Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Edge theater, as well as The Cripple of Inishmaan at Miner’s Alley.  

Putting McBride, Lindsey and Collins together for Driving Miss Daisy is a masterful act of casting; the trio lights up the stage with brilliant performances from the first scene to the extended standing ovation.  
Cajardo Lindsey (Hoke).

Director Pat Payne fully exploits the wealth of talent he has been given.  Payne paces the show at the speed of a Southern drawl, giving the dialog an inherent authenticity.  Driving Miss Daisy does not require a real or even a mockup car to work; Payne arranges wooden chairs for the front and back seat.  The rest is done with imagination and creativity.  Payne ages his actors during the 30 years covered in the script, slowing them down and showing their physical and emotional struggles as they age.

For reasons both practical and artistic, Payne needed a simple but effective set.  Set designer Tobias Harding delivered exactly that with a three piece set that works extremely well.  Besides the imaginary car, the set includes a work desk for Boolie and an easy chair for Daisy’s living room.  Lighting designer Karalyn Star Pytel keeps the active 1/3 of the set lit while the other 2/3 is dark.  

Mark Collins (Boolie).
Dialect coach Gabriella Cavallero’s work is obvious and outstanding.  All three actors speak fluent Southern.  I am constantly amazed at the ability of good actors to adopt a dialect for their performances.  McBride appeared recently in The Lying Kind with a marvelous British accent; Collins had a heavy Irish brogue in The Cripple of Inishmaan.  Hearing them here with a Southern drawl is additional (but perhaps unnecessary) proof of how well they have mastered their craft.  

Carjardo Lindsey’s southern drawl is just as effective, but it’s something we’ve seen before.  He played a similar character in The Whipping Man.  Both roles are for an old African American man in the South.  Offstage, Lindsey is an imposing young guy with a million dollar smile.  Onstage, he can age 50 years with ease.  Watch him getting into the imaginary car.  Using his free hand, he lifts his trailing leg at the knee and drags it into the car.  It’s a completely authentic gesture that fully conveys the struggle of aging.  Lindsey has a day job; he’s a practicing attorney (complete with an ad in the program).  His acting hobby may one day overtake his day job.  He’s that good.

I haven’t said much here about the story or the plot.  If you’re unfamiliar with Driving Miss Daisy, all you need to know is that it won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1988.  It is a compelling story, chronicling a changing Atlanta during the mid 20th century civil rights movement.  It’s done here by an amazing cast at the top of their games, and that alone makes this a must see show.  

Driving Miss Daisy is intimate, personal, and outstanding theater in the most unlikely of places:  a carpet store.  This is a very small venue; all the seats are within a few feet of the actors.  Broadway is not the only place to see great theater; sometimes it happens where you least expect it.  

Don’t go to Broadway.  Go to Shaver-Ramsey Fine & Custom Rugs in Cherry Creek.  It won’t cost you a fortune (tickets are just $34.00), and you’ll be close enough to see every gesture, every facial expression, and every nuance on the stage.  I guarantee that for your $34.00, you will get an unforgettable theater experience that will rival any show on Broadway.  


There is metered street parking parking near the theater on the surrounding streets.  There are also nearby paid parking structures, and potential free parking at the Cherry Creek Mall garages.  That said, though, parking near the theater is difficult. Plan to arrive early enough to hunt for a suitable parking spot.

This show is suitable for all ages. 

And now, a word from our sponsor....

Sponsors and supporters of local theater do not get enough credit; without them, most small companies could not exist.  That’s the case with Cherry Creek Theatre as well.  They need donors, supporters, and sponsors as well as ticket sales to put on quality theater.  I’m taking a little space here to recognize one of their benefactors.

Shaver-Ramsey Fine & Custom Rugs. 
The Shaver-Ramsey carpet store generously makes its space available to the Cherry Creek Theatre group.  I have no idea what the arrangement is between the two entities, but Shaver-Ramsey has been home to Cherry Creek Theatre for years.  Each time a show takes place, no carpet business is done in the store.  I’m sure there is some lost business factor for Shaver-Ramsey, but there is a huge art benefit to the entire Denver community.  

I, for one, am very grateful for sponsors like Shaver-Ramsey.  So here’s my thanks…a virtual STANDING OVATION.  And if I need a new custom carpet, I’ll be in to take a look around.

PHOTO CREDITS:  BK Studios & Shaver-Ramsey Fine & Custom Rugs.


This show will close on June 28, 2015.


This is a description rather than a recommendation.  I doubt we’ll go back.

We had dinner with friends before the show at The North Italia restaurant, 190 Clayton Lane 
Denver.  It’s high end Italian, and it’s in Cherry Creek, so plan to spend some money.  We had a beer, a sangria, a pizza ($15.00), and spicy shrimp ($18.00).  Our check was around $70.00 before the tip.  My pizza exploded with flavor.  Roxie’s shrimp pasta was adequate, but for the price, it was undistinguished.  The best part of the experience was the unhurried dinner conversation with our friends.

North Italia is very convenient to the theater, which is less than three blocks away.  Once you’re parked, you don’t need to move the car. 


Director:  Pat Payne

Dialect Coach:  Gabriella Cavallero

Set Designer:  Tobias Harding

Lighting Designer:  Karalyn Star Pytel

Sound Designer:  Tom Quinn

Costume Designer:  Debra Faber

Wigs:  Debbie Spaur

Props:  Rob Costigan & Bob Bauer

Stage Manager:  Lisa Cook

Assistant Stage Manager:  Lauren Hergenreter

Publicist:  Gloria Shanstrom


Daisy Werthan:  Billie McBride

Boolie Werthan:  Mark Collins

Hoke:  Cajardo Lindsey

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