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A return trip for 'Driving Miss Daisy'
Local cast reunites at Emma Kelly for award-winning play
Driving Miss Daisy for Web
In this Herald file photo from the 2009 show, Hoke, portrayed by Mical Whitaker, right, spars verbally with Miss Daisy (Carol Thompson) during "Driving Miss Daisy." The same cast and director return for Friday and Saturday shows at the Averitt Center. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/Herald File

'Driving Miss Daisy'
When: 7:30 p.m., tonight and Saturday
Where: Averitt Center for the Arts
Tickets: $14 adults; $10 under 12
Contact: (912) 212-2787

    After a successful run last year, the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama “Driving Miss Daisy” returns to the Emma Kelly Theater tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m.
    Directed by Georgia Southern professor Gary Dartt, the production reunites the same cast of gifted actors to tell a story that gracefully deals with issues of racial and religious prejudice, ageism, independence and friendship.
    The show is sponsored by Wise Choice Realty. Tickets are $14 for adults and $10 for children under 12. Call 912-212-2787 for more information.
    Carol Thompson is the feisty, irascible, curmudgeon Daisy Werthan, who resents the loss of her independence when she is forced to give up driving. Alan Tyson is her son Boolie who hires Hoke Colburn, a middle-aged black man, as his mother's chauffeur. Mical Whitaker reprises the role of Hoke, who manages to be exceedingly patient, quiet, and respectful, while maintaining his dignity and eventually develops a close friendship with Miss Daisy.
    The production played to three sold-out shows in 2009 and Melinda Roell, development consultant for the Averitt Center, said so many people were unable to obtain tickets they decided to bring the show back this year with the exact same cast.
    Thompson, a consummate performer, made her stage debut as a high school senior. She has performed in community and professional theater across the south: Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.
    Last year she came out of acting retirement to play the role of Daisy.
    “I love her,” said Thompson, who is the assistant director for the GSU Performing Arts Center. “She is a woman who is aging and fighting fiercely for her independence.”
    Tyson's first stage appearance was in the early 90's as Fezzywig in “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Mical Whitaker and performed in the old McCroan Auditorium. Tyson was bitten by the acting bug and has appeared as Bruce Yawn in the Averitt STARs' production of “Erk Russell: A Life Done Right.”
    One of the most well-known and respected actors and directors in the area, Whitaker's career has taken him to theaters and radio in New York, around the country, and back to south Georgia. At the time of his retirement, Whitaker had directed and/or acted in over 100 productions throughout his 23 year Georgia Southern tenure.  
    Whitaker was privileged to see one of the first stage performances of “Driving Miss Daisy” in an off-Broadway production.
    “I really identify with Hoke,” Whitaker said. “This character could be my father, so I feel as if I know him well. This is a dream cast,” he said. “We are all friends, we've worked together over the years — I'm working with people I've directed, for whom I've acted and Georgia Southern co-workers, it's just a great group.”