YORKVILLE — Odd-couple-type relationships always make for an engaging show premise, especially when the two steadfast characters are portrayed with such chemistry and buoyancy.
The volley of wits between an unlikely pair: the Southern, white, Jewish Miss Daisy Werthan, (played by Jacquie Weirich of Os- wego), and her enthusiastic, yet uneducated, African American chauffeur, Hoke Colburn (played by Darren Jones of Evanston), take center stage at the River’s Edge Theatre July 26-28.
In the very sweet and heartwarming story, “Driv-ing Miss Daisy” opens in 1948 in Atlanta, Ga., right after Miss Daisy has crashed her car for what appears to be the umpteenth time. Her adult son, Boolie (played by Christopher Roe of Plano) tells his mother he will be hiring a chauffeur to “run her around to the store.”
Despite her vehement re- sistance, Daisy finally gives in and the remainder of the plot centers on the softening of Daisy’s heart and the mutual education of Daisy and Hoke as the two help open each others’ eyes to the ever-changing world.
Daisy, a former school teacher, teaches Hoke to read as he, in turn, breaks her of her occasionally narrowminded and curmudgeonly ways with his own brand of wit and honesty.
Weirich is not a newcomer to the spotlight, having appeared on stage with Summer Place in Naperville, Batavia’s Albright Theatre, Steel Beam in St. Charles, Indian Valley Theatre in Sandwich, Oswego Playhouse and once before with PR Productions.
“This play is about a woman who has, in the later years of her life, started to realize she is losing control of her independence,” said Weirich. “It scares her and I think that’s a lesson for a lot of people who are growing older.”
A teacher in the Oswego School District (the last 13 at Oswego High School), Weirich received a masters in special education and majored in theatre at the University of Denver.
“Driving Miss Daisy” is a 1987 play by Alfred Uhry, and was the first in his ‘Atlanta Trilogy,’ which deals with white, Jewish residents of that city in the early 20th century. The play was the first version of the story, and the same script that the popular 1989 motion picture was based upon.
“Nobody can be a Jessica Tandy or Morgan Freeman,” said Weirich. “The play has such wonderful insight in compressed scenes that really allow the audience to fall in love with each of the characters and be witness to their personal growth throughout.”
One of the greatest feats in this production is the actors’ attempt to portray the aging of each character by 25 years (as the show spans from 1948 to 1973).
“It’s quite difficult, “she said.
“I’ve done a lot of people watching and studying of mannerisms. I hope we do the story justice.”
One of the show’s more touching moments is when Hoke comforts Daisy as she has what seems to be an Alzheimer’s-like episode and begins to think she is back in her classroom, frantically searching for her students’ papers to grade.
When she regains her clarity, she shares with Hoke that he is her best friend — the first time the audience sees her open up and share her need for companionship.
“Driving Miss Daisy” is a touching tribute to unlikely friendships and what can be gained by letting someone unexpected into one’s life.
The production will run for three performances July 26-28 at the River’s Edge Theatre, south Illinois 47 in Yorkville.
Friday & Saturday performances begin at 7 p.m., with the Sunday matinee scheduled for 2 p.m.
Tickets are $15 and may be purchased by visiting www.wewantpr.com or by calling 888-395-0797.