Final Weekend: Driving Miss Daisy – A Long Love Lasts At The Arts Center

“I like the movie as much as anybody.  I like the play more.”  That’s how the director, Bob Farley put it.  And that’s saying something, since the movie won four Oscars from nine nominations, including Best Picture and Best Actress.  If you hurry, you can slow down and see Driving Miss Daisy the way the artists saw it when they fell in love with it.  Daisy plays through Saturday, April 1, at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina.

The production at the Arts Center reunites director Farley with the 20thanniversary revival cast of Driving Miss Daisy; Rob Cleveland as Hoke, Jill Jane Clements as Daisy and William Murphey as Daisy’s son Boolie.   The script has been called “the most jam-packed 37 ½ pages ever written for

Jill Jane Clements as Daisy - Rob Cleveland as Hoke

the American theater.”  It won the Pulitzer Prize.  And it’s fair to say that no better cast than this has ever performed it, since it first went on in 1987 with Dana Ivey and Morgan Freeman.  And that’s some tall cotton, because when Daisy finally made it to Broadway, and to London’s West End, in 2010-2011 it was with James Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines.

Even though this is not much notice, I wanted to document this production in the blog because of what it says about our theater connections in Hilton

Director Bob Farley and CEO Kathi Bateson at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina

Head Island.  We are fortunate, and this show has been another fine example of that.  The connections between our theatre community and the history of this show are woven as beautifully as a sweetgrass basket.

The story starts around 1987 when Bob Farley was director at the Alliance, Atlanta’s Tony-Award-winning theater.  He went to New York to cast a show.  (As our Arts Center team on Hilton Head does every few months.)  On the trip, Bob made a point of seeing a new show Off-Off-Broadway, because a young actress he’d worked with at the Alliance was playing the lead in it.  Driving Miss Daisy.  Even to Bob’s experienced eye it was love at first sight.  Through tears.  “I was crying at the end of the show,” Farley recalled. “It was just so brilliant.

Bob started fast and lobbied hard to get the rights to Daisy – – which is set in

20th Anniversary - As Fine A Cast As Ever Played Daisy

Atlanta – – and the Alliance production went up just a year after the opening in New York.  You might say things went well.  Daisy became the longest-running stage production in the Southeast.  The connections continued.  The actress who played the first Daisy in the Atlanta production was the mother of the first Daisy in New York.  No fooling.

Fast forward a couple of years, near the end of the 1980’s, and Arts Center CEO Kathi Bateson is working at a theater in Virginia.  She’s on the receiving end of a cultural exchange with Theatre Mossoviet in the crumbling Soviet Union.  The play that Moscow got in exchange?  Bob Farley’s Alliance production of Driving Miss Daisy.

Do call today for tickets, 843-842-ARTS (2787), or get tickets online at www.artshhi.com .