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Courtesy of Douglaston Community Theatre
Barbara Mavro (Daisy) and Denzel Hawker (Hoke)

BY TAMMY SCILEPPI

In the mood for a thought-provoking classic that will truly touch your heart?

Then don’t miss Douglaston Community Theatre’s production of “Driving Miss Daisy,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy-drama that inspired the Oscar-winning film, starting Feb. 28.

Alfred Uhry’s play, which opened Off-Broadway in 1987, was inspired by the relationship between his grandmother Lena Fox, and her longtime chauffeur and friend Will Coleman. The movie, released in 1989, starred Jessica Tandy as the fiercely independent Miss Daisy and Morgan Freeman as her wise driver, Hoke. It won four Academy Awards, including for best picture, and three Golden Globe Awards, including for best comedy or musical.

“The play has something for everyone — humor, drama, pathos,” said Barbara Mavro, who plays Daisy alongside co-stars Dan Bubbeo (Daisy’s son Boolie) and Denzel Hawker (Hoke), in the DCT production. “In a series of scenes from 1948 to 1973, the relationship between Daisy and Hoke grows, as they deal with the issues of prejudice, acceptance, and eventual love and respect.”

“Driving Miss Daisy” will make you laugh, cry and think.

“The challenge is working through all its stereotypes of racism, ageism and sexism, so that the play’s message shines through,” said director Vincent Scott, who previously worked at Urban Stages in Manhattan, and recently directed “Cat’s Cradle” and “Gingerbread Lady,” as well as other DCT plays.

“This ‘Daisy’ is unique because Mavro must rely on her relationship with the actors to convey her message,” Scott added. “We have chosen to have a minimum set, leaving the actors to simply use their actions and reactions to convey Uhry’s message of companionship and love.” 

Like Tandy’s astonishing transformation from a sprightly widow in her 60s to an infirm old woman drifting in and out of senility in her 90s, Mavro’s role is a tough one to pull off since she must convince her audience that she’s gradually getting older — with no makeup changes. One challenge is showing the aging process through physical movements and changes in voice. Another is quickly changing costumes for each of the 12 scenes, according to the seasoned actress and longtime Little Neck resident, who has been doing theatre since 1972 and debuted at DCT in 1979 (most of her performances have been with this group).

Interestingly, Mavro said she felt a connection to Fox.

“We are both independent women. While she had to accept having a chauffeur when she could no longer drive, I am hoping that when my time comes, driverless cars will have been perfected! We both had careers in education — mine was as a high school math teacher. And religion is an important part of both of our lives.”

Much of what is depicted in the play still resonates today.

“Miss Daisy, a white southern Jewish widow, truly believes, and states on more than one occasion, that she is not prejudiced, and yet there is ample evidence that she is. I think that we, as people, are often blind to our own biases,” Mavro said.

“In this production, you really feel, first-hand, [the characters’] struggles — and smile, as they overcome their adversities and become friends,” Scott said. “You will leave the theater feeling good and may even call a friend.”

Founded in 1950, Douglaston Community Theatre is the oldest active community theater in Queens, producing three productions each year (spring, fall and winter).  

You can catch “Driving Miss Daisy” at Zion Church Parish Hall (243-01 Northern Blvd.) on Friday, Feb. 28, Saturday, Feb. 29, and Friday, March 6, at 8 p.m., on Sunday, March 1, at 3 p.m., and on Sunday, March 7, at 2 p.m. 

To reserve tickets ($19 for adults, $17 for students and seniors), visit:  www.dctonline.org/ticket-reservations or call 718-482-3332.

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