The New Depot Players are officially streaking – with well-written, acted and directed performances. Following up the notable, but unfortunately under-attended “Rabbit Hole,” their spring production is none other than “Driving Miss Daisy.”
The Pulitzer Prize-winning play written by Alfred Uhrey was immortalized in the much-loved and lauded film version back in the 90s. On one hand, a savvy move by NDP as one can never go wrong with good material; on the other, audiences could have a “been there, done that” mentality and the film actors cast a memorable shadow. Brilliant gamble as this is a phenomenal version.
The play traces the 25 year relationship between an opinionated and wily, southern Jewish woman and her wise and long-suffering black chauffeur, two seemingly opposites – class, race, gender – during a time in America when such differences were often insurmountable in regards to true friendship. The two do have stubbornness and fortitude in common. It’s amusing and informative to see how they resolve issues.
“It’s such a mirror of what was going on in our country at the time,” said Bobbie Elzey, a.k.a. Daisy Werthan, “I love the dialogue and the character is so feisty.” The remarkable Elzey’s gift with dramatic and comedic moments is reliably and delightfully spot-on. “Cathe Hall Payne is a treat of director…she’s creative and has given us really good insights on the characters.”
Flawlessly depicting her noble chauffer, Hoke Colburn, is Nat Martin in his seventh production of the play. “I’m making a career of playing Hoke,” he joked, “Maybe when I finish, I’ll make the Guinness Book of World Records.” Both he and Elzey nail the non-verbal transitions their characters undergo through the years.
Tom Johnson plays Boolie Werthan , Daisy’s son and engineer of many of her frustrations, winningly. As an actor, Johnson has come into his own in the last year, particularly on the dramatic front. “For me, this is a triple bucket list – directed by Cathe and acting with Nat and Bobbie.” As they all echoed, the chemistry between the three actors is dynamic and real. All three actors and the director are awarded NDP veterans, as well as on stages in Atlanta, Decatur and beyond.
The experience for their director has been cathartic. In the last year, she has lost both her parents and a close aunt. “Daisy reminds me of my Aunt Mary, a southern, no-joke schoolteacher,” said Hall Payne, “The last two scenes are the most beautiful and bring the friendship to fruition…it’s lovely, and I will cry every night.”
The most affecting dramas are relatable and handled with a lighter touch. This one does not disappoint. Do not disappoint this vibrant troupe; support them while taking in quality entertainment close to home.
“Driving Miss Daisy” runs April 25 – 27 and May 2 – 4 at 8 p.m. and April 28 and May 5 at 3 p.m.at 910 Center Street in Conyers. Tickets are $20 for adults; $16 for seniors and students. Preview night is Wednesday, April 24, at 8 p.m. with a special ticket price of $10.To purchase tickets, visit www.thenewdepotplayers.com or call (678)374-3224.