‘Driving Miss Daisy’ opens in Bartow: Schoolhouse Players production runs June 16-25

Special Report
Alfred Uruy’s Driving Miss Daisy first arrived at The Schoolhouse Players’ Mancin Auditorium in Bartow 19 years ago.  The famous play enjoyed an extra measure of special attention largely because of Ann Smith’s stunning performance in the role of Miss Daisy.  Also, the play was presented with full sets, instead of the usual simple black curtains and a few props: a first.  It was a Miss Daisy of significance and deserves a revival.
Well, here comes Miss Daisy again, with her son Boolie and driver Hoke.  They are on their way to Bartow’s Mancin Auditorium to help celebrate The Schoolhouse Players’ 20th season of live theater.  
The much loved play arrives June 15, for a two-week run. Fortunately, Ann Smith is reprising her performance as the title character, with other highly able actors rounding out the cast.  
Skip Horne, another Players’ regular, plays the wise and loving Boolie, and Jonathan Jones joins the troupe to play Hoke, the driver who becomes headstrong Daisy Werthen’s best friend.   
When asked how close her performance will be to her original one, Smith said, “I’m now closer to Miss Daisy’s age.  And, frankly, I’m playing her a bit more feisty.”
“This is a director’s dream cast,’’ says director Brad Smith. “And the play is as meaningful to audiences today as it was when we first staged it in 1996.”   
“Twenty years,” muses Ann Smith.  “We’ve been staging plays and musicals, as well as an occasional concert for more than two decades.  That adds up to more than a hundred productions, when  you count the touring shows, too.”  
She was referring to a half-dozen touring companies, such as the Brad Sherrill production The Gospel of John, which played the Bartow stage right before beginning its successful New York run and Bill Oberst Jr. in Lewis Grizzard Live.   
Also, the Schoolhouse Players’ reputation has brought six playwrights to Jefferson County to see their works come to life on the Players’ stage.  For example, when Pulitzer-nominated playwright Pamela Parker learned the troupe had applied for license to produce her play, Second Samuel, she practically jumped through the phone, “Where the devil is this place?! I keep hearing about it. Gotta see what they do with my baby.”  
For the record, she did come and loved what she saw.
Another feather in The Players’ cap was touring their productions of  Smoke on the Mountain and Always Patsy Cline.  
Atlanta’s major newspaper, the AJC, makes no attempt at reviewing non-professional productions in Atlanta, yet it gave The Players’ production of Arsenic and Old Lace a glowing full-page write-up that called Bartow “America’s smallest town with a thriving theater.”
So, do come see what promises to be another memorable production sponsored by Queensborough Bank, a long-time and loyal sponsor of The Players’ productions.  
Show dates for this production are June 16, 17, 23, and 24 at 7 p.m., and a matinee Sunday, June 25 at 3 p.m..  
All tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for students through 12th grade.  For group reservations, call (478) 364-3340.  Advance payment for a group of 12 or more receives a $1 discount on each ticket.  Tickets may also be purchased by mail or at The Book Worm in Louisville, Gunn Drugs in Wadley,and Barney’s Pharmacy in Wrens.