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Southern pride

When Daisy Werthan — a 72-year-old Jewish widow — crashes her car while backing out of her garage, her son Boolie insists she is no longer capable of driving hires a driver, Hoke Coleburn — a 60-year-old African-American.

Daisy disapproves and protests. She is unwilling to give up any of her long-standing independence, and she doesn't trust Hoke. She stays in and refuses to let him drive her anywhere.

After Hoke — who's been sitting around the kitchen — points out that a lady such as herself shouldn't be taking the bus, she relents and lets him drive her to the local Piggly Wiggly, but she insists on telling him what route to take and how fast to drive.

On another outing, Daisy is upset when Hoke parks in front of her temple to pick her up, afraid that people will think she is "putting on the airs of a rich person."

Set in Atlanta during the heat of the civil rights movement, playwright Alfred Uhry's story explores the unlikely relationship between his own grandmother and her chauffeur in "Driving Miss Daisy," a warm-hearted, poignant play that won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1988. Camelot's production stars Shirley Patton as Werthan, Steven Dominguez as Coleburn and Roy Von Rains Jr. as Boolie Werthan. Paul R. Jones directs.

"Driving Miss Daisy" previews at 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 29-30. Tickets cost $25 for the Jan. 29 show — a benefit for Soroptimist International of of Medford. Tickets cost $12 for the Jan. 30 preview.

The show will open Friday, Jan. 31, and run through March 2 at Camelot Theatre, 101 Talent Ave., Talent. Curtain will be at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. A pay-what-you-can performance will be offered at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5. All tickets cost $25, $23 for seniors and students (except for Sunday matinees).

Tickets and other information are available online at www.camelottheatre.org, by calling 541-535-5250 or at the box office. Box office hours are noon to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and one hour before performances. Reserved seating is available for an additional $2 per ticket.

"The play spans 25 years of American history and permits us to examine, in a more personal and meaningful way, the connection between people during a time of social unrest and change," Jones says in a press release. Jones played Sherlock Holmes in Camelot's holiday production of "Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Carol."

Dominguez played Solomon Mantutu in "45 Seconds from Broadway" and Don Blades in "The Best Man" at Camelot Theatre. His credits include roles in New York City theaters and television.

Patton was a member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's acting company for 30 seasons. She's performed at Southern Oregon University, Actors' Theatre, Oregon Stage Works and many Camelot shows. Rains' performances have been featured in many Camelot productions.

"Driving Miss Daisy" was adapted into a film directed by Bruce Beresford in 1989. Morgan Freeman reprised his role as Hoke (he'd also performed in the off-Broadway production) and Jessica Tandy played Daisy. The film received four Oscars from nine nominations at the 62nd Academy Awards.

Shirley Patton plays Daisy Werther and Steven Dominguez plays Hoke Coleburn in Camelot Theatre's production of 'Driving Miss Daisy.' - Photo courtesy of Steve Sutfin