Coming in March, the Van Singel Fine Arts Center will host “Driving Miss Daisy,” the Pulitzer prize-winning comedy-drama written by Alfred Uhry. This production reunites TV stars Sheree Wilson and Clarence Gilyard, both of “Walker, Texas Ranger” fame.
Wilson, who is also know for her role on the hit series “Dallas,” plays Daisy, the strong-willed Jewish matriarch whose unlikely friendship with her African-American driver, Hoke, eclipses the social norms upheld by mid-century Southern culture. Hoke is played by Gilyard, whose roles on “Matlock” and in “Left Behind” have earned acclaim.
Having both built incredible careers in film and television, Wilson and Gilyard are thrilled to collaborate on stage. Gilyard, after his success on screen, returned to the theater to hone his craft before live audiences. “To be in the theatrer with all these people; watching creatures on stage taking you through history and through time as they age…laughing and crying with them. And this play—which is why it won Pulitzer—is truly a beautiful piece that travels well,” Gilyard said.
This successful production hit the road in 2016, playing to packed theaters and engaging communities nationwide with its storytelling.
“We need to tell these stories, the good and bad, transparencies…theatre scrutinizes transparency so that we can evolve,” Gilyard said. “There’s a reason why it is part of our human experience to have theater as part of a healthy society.”
For Wilson, the show will be her first live production since high school. The poignancy of the material—and the opportunity to work with former “Walker” co-star Gilyard again—made for a wonderful opportunity. “It’s so magical, doing this play and picking up with a dear old friend, taking off on a new adventure,” Wilson said. “You already have the chemistry, familiarity, knowing how the other works. It’s a comfort…you trust the person you’re on stage with. And audiences are so responsive. Standing ovations, packed houses…it’s an affirmation of why we do this.”
“It’s a fun process and a blessing,” Gilyard said.
“Driving Miss Daisy” is at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 31, at the Van Singel Fine Arts Center, 8500 Burlingame Ave. SW, the corner of Burlingame Avenue and 84th Street. Reserved seating is available. Adult tickets are $42.50, students are $22.50 (college and younger – may have to show student ID). Seats can be reserved in person at the box office or by calling 616-878-6800. The box office is open Monday through Friday from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are also available at www.vsfac.com. Group ticket discounts are available.