Oldies but goodies

Chevy prop, musical selections help tell the story in ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’ ending its benefit run this weekend

“Driving Miss Daisy,” on stage this weekend at Columbia Center for the Arts, is essentially a touching and humorous conversation.

It tells the story of the unlikely but unshakeable decades-long friendship between an elderly Atlanta Jewish woman, Daisy, and her driver, a black man 20 years her junior named Hoke.

“Driving Miss Daisy” is a production of Plays for Non-Profits; ticket sales this weekend benefit the Friends of the Library and The Next Door Inc.

Along with the human interaction, the staging of Arthur Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play depends on a key prop — the car Hoke drives — and the music that chronicles it.

ON STAGE AT CCA: ‘Driving Miss Daisy’

“Driving Miss Daisy” runs Jan. 24-25 for The Next Door and Jan. 26 for Hood River Library.

All shows are at 7:30 p.m. except for Jan. 26, 2 p.m.

Tickets are $18 for adults, $15 for seniors, and $10 for students 17 and under, at Waucoma Bookstore or online at showtix4U.com.

Production help comes from Jeff Cook, Adrian Chaton and Dell Charity.

“The songs tie the story together because it goes through four decades,” Director Lynda Dallman said. “Musical Director Bill Weiler has done a marvelous job pulling together musical selections that along with set changes, clothing and makeup really help show the passage of time.”

Weiler plays the piano, and has help on harmonica from Mark Harvey. The two men did a similar collaboration for the 2013 PFNP production “Of Mice and Men,” also directed by Dallman.

As “Driving Miss Daisy” progresses, the songs are increasingly from black artists, Dallman explained.

“Their voices, their themes start to come through more and more,” she said.

“You’ve Got a Friend,” by Carole King, and “Rainy Night in Georgia,” by Brooke Benton, are used to timely effect.

Then there is the car, a hood and dash unit contributed by Gary Fisher of Hood River. Contacted in early January by Dallman, Fisher had the 1950 Chevrolet on hand and cut the front and side pieces to order within two days.

The car has a steering wheel and gear-shift for McNair to use, but what did not come with Fisher’s car was the rear-view mirror. It’s almost a fourth character given how much of the Daisy-and-Hoke dialog flows through it.

But the way McNair and Morrow interact, you would swear the mirror is there.

The car is seen in side view in the opening scene, when Daisy gets in to go for a drive; the lights go out and the screech-and-crash sound effects tell what happened next, and why Daisy needed Hoke to drive her for her own safety.

“It was a fun project to be involved in,” said Fisher, who has repurposed several old vehicles or fabricated metal parts and other objects and turned them into whimsical replicas. These are on display, and available for play, at Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum, where Fisher volunteers, in the kids area, known also as the Learning Center.

(Fisher created an airplane, helicopter, motorcycle, and submarine out of objects such as fenders, propane tanks, garage doors, street lamps, and dozens of other scrap sources.)

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