ProArts is racking up a reputation for producing professional-quality theater, and Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning classic "Driving Miss Daisy" was no exception. The cast of three, directed by Jonathan Lehman, tackled complex themes of race, class, aging, close-mindedness and pride with unassuming honesty and humor. They had the audience laughing from the moment the lights went up, and by the final scene, had more than one person in tears.
Joyce Romero was the perfect choice for the strong-willed, proud and opinionated Miss Daisy. Her stubborn pronouncements had the audience laughing through the whole show, even as time passed and age wore her down to a shadow of the fiery lady she once was. Particularly convincing was the way Romero aged before the audience's eyes: makeup gave her a few extra wrinkles, but the real transformation was in her trembling hands and hollow eyes.
In his first appearance in a Maui production, J. Marc Mance was exceptional as Hoke Coleburn, Miss Daisy's black chauffeur who gradually changes her perspective on race, social standing and friendship. Mance was so natural and candid onstage that it was easy to forget he was acting. He is one of those rare performers with the confidence to let each line and gesture speak for itself, and the skill to convey meaning without an ounce of pretense. He captured Hoke's sincerity, pride and sense of humor with the ease and subtlety of a master actor.
Joyce Romero and J. Marc Mance make the memorable roles of Miss Daisy and her driver, Hoke Coleburn, their own in this Pulitzer Prize-winning drama.
ProArts / Yumi Numata photo
Romero and Mance created electric chemistry onstage. Their scenes together were tense, funny and powerful.
Kevin Hazelton was Boolie Werthan, Miss Daisy's grown-up son who decides his mother is too old to drive and hires a chauffeur. Hazelton is another brand-new Maui actor with a natural presence onstage and a refreshing, straightforward delivery. His good-humored tolerance toward his difficult mother and occasional cheeky aside brought lightness to the show.
The production team included scenic designer Caro Walker, costume designer Kathleen Schulz and lighting designer Bonnie Prucha. Doug Kendrick and Jonathan Lehman produced.
"Driving Miss Daisy" performs 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays through April 10 at the ProArts Playhouse in Kihei.
Tickets are $20 for adults and seniors and $15 for students 18 and under and Thursdays nights with kamaaina I.D.
Call 463-6520 for tickets and information.
"Driving Miss Daisy" was yet another triumph for ProArts. It was their first adult drama, but I doubt it will be their last.