The Column Online



By Alfred Uhry

Richardson Theatre Centre

Director: Rachael Lindley
Asst. Stage Manager: Tami Leal Smith
Designers: Kyle Chinn, Racheal Lindley
Sound Design: Rusty Harding
Lighting Design: Kenneth Hall
Sound/Light Operator Robert Sims
Costumes Racheal Lindley, Cast and Crew
Set Dresser Racheal Lindley
Set Painters Jackie Johnston, Budd Mahan
Artistic Director Racheal Lindley
Executive Director Lise Alexander
House Manager/Facebook Leigh Anne Moore
Playbill/Flyers/Web/E-news Becky Bryley


Daisy Werthan Karen Jordan
Boolie Werthan Brian Hoffman
Hoke Coleburn Toney Smith

Reviewed Performance: 4/2/2023

Reviewed by Edna Elizabeth Ellsberry, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN

For those only familiar with the film, Driving Miss Daisy, you are in for a treat as this spare, three-character study is given a thoughtful treatment at the Richardson Centre Theatre. I have never viewed the film and was delighted by the lean quality of the scenes, which take place in Atlanta from 1948 to 1973. These vignettes are conveyed through Daisy Werthan, (Karen Jordan) her son Boolie, (Brian Hoffman), and the man he hires to drive his aging mother, Hoke Coleburn (Toney Smith).

As the lights go down at the beginning of the show, there is the sound of a car starting, being put into gear, then a loud crash. The lights o comes up, and the set is divided into three parts: Sage right has an armchair with a table and phone, and, closer to the center is a blind-covered window, a desk, telephone, and chair next to it. This scene takes place on stage left, in an area representing Daisy Werthan s home, complete with a settee, desk, a telephone on it. The center stage is composed of two white benches, one in front of the other, resembling a front and back seat, with a steering wheel on the driver’s side. Daisy and her son Boolie enter upstage right, and we learn the details from the offstage accident, prompting Boolie to suggest a driver for his mother.

In this exchange, Daisy proves herself to be strong-willed and mulish, when it comes to this pronouncement. She is concerned with being perceived as rich, even though she is well-cared for after her husband’s death. She tells her son he is being “ugly,” and “hateful,’ two expressions redolent of many a Southern mother, when Boolie offers his assistance in finding her a driver. She is every inch an Atlanta matron, and these words are exactly right. When Boolie mentions her cook Idella, presumably in the kitchen as they discuss the matter, Daisy says they “know how to stay out of each other’s way.” Daisy reminds her son that she was brought up “to do for yourself.”

Boolie, is off to attend a dinner party with his wife Florine, about whom Daisy opines that she must have bought a new dress for the occasion and that her daughter-in-law’s idea of “ “heaven on earth” must be “socializing with Episcopalians.” Boolie, played by Brian Hoffman, has an air about him of both slight annoyances mingled with genuine amusement and affection for his recalcitrant mother, whom he calls a “Dooly’ when she is being particularly tart-tonged. He is, however, determined to find a chauffeur for her, if only to take her to the market once a week. In the next scene, which takes place in the office area, we meet Hoke Coleburn, played with a gentlemanly air, by Toney Smith., who relates his earlier employment, allowing us to witness his deliberate manner of expressing himself.

Smith, as Hoke Coleburn, presents an exact amount of the character’s personality within the text. Here is the portrayal of a thoughtful man, who exhibits deference to her son and Miss Daisy, but also shows a spark of how he feels about the constraints of his job and the indomitable personality of his employer. This is challenging, as one would imagine Morgan Freeman, who originated the role both on Broadway and the in the film, as being forever associated with the character. Smith allows the dialogue to guide his interpretation but adds his own flavor to the character.

Miss Daisy, played by Karen Jordan, echoes many Southern matriarchs one recognizes from the world of theater, as this is no frail sweet-tempered old lady. I was reminded not only of various strong-minded heroines from great plays, but of my own grandmother, who lived to one hundred and three, and drove to her office until she was ninety-one. Jordan, as a performer, must begin the play as a woman in her seventies, and age twenty-five years in the course of the production, and finding the balance, not to mention the approachability of such a strong soul is not easily done. Jordan manages to do so but also allows Daisy to express surprise and genuine emotion, thus allowing for a woman surmised to be set in her ways, to evolve in her mindset. The rapport between these two fine actors, along with the subtlety of the text, is what moves us while watching the play. The actors are all well below the age of their characters, which allows them to present twenty-five years of their association. These vignettes do not over-explicate; their brevity is key. As my companion notes, Uhry gives us short upward strokes, which allow the audience to come to their own conclusions, to ponder these scenes during intermission, and after the play has ended. It is deftly done and avoids treacly, maudlin exposition.

The first act takes place early in the days of Hoke’s employment with Miss Daisy, as he calls her. Through a careful, slow, acquaintance, Hoke is allowed to drive Miss Daisy to the Piggly Wiggly. As Hoke relays in a phone call to Boolie, it took six days: the same time it took the Lord to create the earth.

The second act covers the years at a swifter pace. Rather than telegraphing the year to the audience, music at the beginning of each scene gives clues as to the time period. Wigs, beards and costumes are also utilized to depict the passage of time. The best effect is that of the physicality of the actors to create the passing of time. Miss Daisy becomes more conscious of her movements, finally relying on a walker to help in her movement across the stage. Likewise, Hoke, becomes more stooped, walking more slowly throughout the second act, until each step becomes very deliberate.

Set pieces correspond nicely to the world of the play, whether it is Miss Daisy’s home, or Boole’s area, separated by the car, in the center of the stage, which unites all of these areas and characters. Telephones of all different types become important tools in this production. There is a pay phone which is added and used in the first act by Hoke to alert Boolie as to his success.

The director, Racheal Lindley, wears many hats for this production, serving as co-set designer, set dresser, and providing and choosing costumes, with the help of the cast and crew. She also serves as Artistic Director for the theatre. She does what all accomplished directors do: she allows to story to unfold. She encourages listening and respects the play. Trusting in both the source material and the actors ensures a solid production. She and the cast and crew should feel assured that this results in an impressive ensemble.

The production runs from March 31st to April 16, 2023
Richardson Theatre Centre
518 W. Arapaho Road, Suite 113 Richardson, TX 75080
Tickets / Box Office Tickets may be purchased online at
Phone number 972-699-1130