By Grisha Syssoyev
This March, the Center for the Arts at Kayenta will team up with The Neil Simon Festival to present “Driving Miss Daisy,” Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play.
An extremely witty, complex, and ultimately hopeful meditation on race relations in America, “Driving Miss Daisy” tells the story of Daisy Werthan (Jan Broberg), a 72-year old Jewish woman from Atlanta, and Hoke Colburn (Clarence Gilyard), her African American chauffeur. Daisy, who can no longer drive, must overcome societal boundaries and prejudices as she learns to trust her companion, hired against her will by her son Boolie (Rick Bugg). Ultimately, the tension and animus between them proves no match for their newfound friendship. Filled with relatable themes and lots of humor and spirit, this is an ultimately touching story on aging, racial and religious prejudice, and the power of love in transcending bigotry by getting to really know our “neighbors” and associates.
“Driving Miss Daisy” originally premiered as an off-Broadway production in 1987 and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning (including Best Picture) film starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. Tandy, age 81 at the time, would be the oldest actress to win an Academy Award.
Clarence Gilyard, who plays Hoke Colburn, has a stellar background in television and film and is best known for his roles as Jimmy Trivette on TV’s “Walker, Texas Ranger” and as Conrad McMasters on “Matlock.” Gilyard has also appeared in numerous feature films including “Die Hard,” “Top Gun,” and “The Karate Kid, Part II.” Gilyard is the head of the film and theater department at UNLV. Inspiring new talent and guiding them into productive lives is his passion.
Jan Broberg has appeared in leading roles on numerous stages including Tuacahn, the Neil Simon Festival, St. George Musical Theater, the Pioneer Theater Co., and the Glendale Center Theater and comes with a long list of film and television credits including “Criminal Minds,” “Everwood,” “Colony,” and “Iron Man 3.”
Rick Bugg, founder of the Neil Simon Festival, has been a champion of the arts in the state as an actor in many productions and films as well as a director and theater professor at Southern Utah University.
“The opportunity to partner with and perform in the beautiful new Center for the Arts at Kayenta is marvelous!” he said.
This marks the second time this year that the Center for the Arts at Kayenta has partnered with the Neil Simon Festival. “The Dinner Party,” which ran in January, elicited very favorable reviews from Front Row Reviews, the St. George Spectrum, and patrons.
“This was Broadway quality,” stated David Barrish.
“Driving Miss Daisy” promises to be a night of joy, reflection, and laughter. Featuring an all-star cast and a script that has become one of America’s most beloved stories of the 20th century, the play is a must-see.
Performances run March 20–23 at 7:30 p.m. with a March 25 showing at 5 p.m. Advance tickets and gourmet picnic dinners by Harmon’s may be purchased online at kayentaarts.com or by calling the box office at (435) 674-ARTS (2787).