LAURINBURG – Although Encore! Theater entered a slump in the last few years, the group is back on track to treat to residents to performances of the best talent and shows Scotland County has to offer.
This year Encore! has joined with the Arts Council of Scotland County to perform the play “Driving Miss Daisy,” written for the stage by Alfred Uhry.
The council has offered the stage at the Story Telling Arts center and hopes to make the collaboration permanent.
“We’re really excited to have Encore! come back to the Arts Council,” said Executive Director Erin Rembert. “We’re trying to give them a home as they rebuild and grow and I hope they can make their home here. It’s a natural thing for Encore! and the Arts Council to work together. With us having performance space and a stage, it’s a win for both of us.”
The play is being directed by Gary Gallman who is well-pleased with Encore’s! choice of play and the cast.
“I think the play is better than the movie, and we have a great cast. They’re all very professional,” Gallman said.
The stage production has a cast of three. Daisy Werthan is played by Brenda Gilbert, Hoke Colburn is portrayed by Tyris Jones who has played to role before, and Allen Johnson takes on the role of Boolie Werthan.
Gilbert is happy with the play and calls beautifully written.
“The lines take you through every emotion. You will laugh, cry, get angry and get appalled” she said. “The venue is challenging because we don’t have a lot of room. We’re stuck doing most lines in same small area. There’s a lot left to the imagination, but the lines in this show just carry it. Sometimes as an actor you will get a line that doesn’t feel right; there’s nothing like that in this show. This show is well defined and the characters are well written”
The play is set in Atlanta and follows Daisy Werthan and Hoke Colburn as they develop a friendship over the course of 25 years from 1948 to 1973. Hoke is an African-American man hired by Boolie to chauffer his aging mother Daisy, after she wrecks her car.
The strong willed Daisy does not want to give up her driving privileges and her recalcitrance is fueled by her mistrust of the strange black man her son has hired.
The heartwarming and sometimes funny show touches on serious subjects like racism and stereotypes held against both the black and Jewish communities in the Jim Crow South, loss and aging.
Gilbert, who has been doing theater for 55 years, was ecstatic to be asked to play the role of Daisy because it was on her bucket list of dream roles.
“It’s been fun to play a very strong Southern Jewish woman,” Gilbert said. “I haven’t seen the movie in years, but I won’t watch it yet because my Daisy is very different than Jessica Tandy’s, and I intend to do it my way.”
She believes the concerted efforts of the small cast will more than make up for the fact that this year’s selection is not a large production.
“This cast has put so much time into this. With a three person cast there are a lot of lines to remember,” Gilbert said. “Tyris and Allen are wonderful actors. It’s been a joy to rehearse with them.”
The show will be performed at the Story Telling Arts Center at 131 S. Main Street on Nov. 9, 11, 16 and 18 at 7 p.m. nightly. A matinee performance will take place on Nov. 12 at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the Story Telling Arts Center, Scotia Village and the Chamber of Commerce: adults $10, seniors $8 and students $5.
Encore! put on its first show in August 1990 with a children’s performance of “Cinderella.” In the 90s and early 2000s the community theater group mounted successful and sometimes large performances with shows like “Oliver!,” “Steel Magnolias,” “The Wizard of Oz,” and “The Sound of Music.” What was supposed to be Encore’s! final production, “Kill Me Deadly,” was staged in April 2014.
The group was revived last year with a Community Talent Showcase in August which helped fund the revised Encore’s! first performance of “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” in December based on the book of the same name by Barbara Robinson.
The members of Encore! want to put on two to three performances a year in the future.
Reach Beth Lawrence 910-506-3169