Driving Miss Daisy: Joanne Waytowich at her Best

Story by Pat Forrest with Photos by Matthew Goertz

Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Alfred Uhry, Driving Miss Daisy movingly covers the 25-year relationship between a wealthy, strong-willed Southern matron (Thunder Bay’s own Joanne Waytowich) and her equally indomitable black chauffeur, Hoke (John Campbell). Both are outsiders, Hoke because of the color of his skin, and Daisy because she is Jewish in a WASP-dominated society.

Waytowich, back after a two-year hiatus due to Bell’s Palsy, is at her absolute best as Daisy—determined, eccentric, cranky and opinionated, yet clearly kind-hearted. Waytowich has said that she “joyfully embraces” the role of Miss Daisy and her delight is obvious. She’s happy to be back and it shows.

Campbell is every bit as fine as her patient and long-suffering driver. Their developing relationship is a delight to watch.

At first Daisy is appalled when her son Boolie (Stuart Dowling) insists she must have a chauffeur because of her increasingly poor driving record. Her indignation that she has been burdened with a black driver is brilliantly portrayed, though she insists that her attitude has nothing to do with his colour. Throughout the play, we see Daisy’s respect and affection for Hoke grow as does Hoke’s for her, though this odd couple relationship is never quite without its moments of bickering.

The final scene set in a nursing home, when Miss Daisy is 93 and her driver 85, is blessed with a deep tenderness and grace.

Alfred Uhry is the only playwright ever to win the Triple Crown: an Oscar, a Tony and a Pulitzer Prize. Driving Miss Daisy was his first play, opening in 1987 in New York at the Playwrights Horizons Theatre. It then moved to the John Houseman Theatre where it ran for over 1300 performances. The play has won many awards and, for the film version, Uhry won an Academy Award. The film was voted Best Picture of the Year.

Driving Miss Daisy runs until Valentine’s Day, February 14. Treat someone you love to a great evening.

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Photos by Matthew Goertz