Two local theater groups start the New Year off on a small scale with productions opening tonight. The Village Players present It Had To Be You and the Toledo Repertoire Theatre offers Driving Miss Daisy.
Last year at this time, the Rep was presenting Tony 'N Tina's Wedding, a huge, rambling production with what seemed to be a cast of thousands.
Driving Miss Daisy has three cast members, and it's a lot calmer, the Rep's artistic director, Gloria Mouloupolis, said earlier this week.
Directed by Brad Faust, making his Rep debut, Driving Miss Daisy is the story of Daisy Werthan, a woman who, after a number of driving mishaps, is forced by her insurance company and her son, Boolie, to hire a chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn.
The relationship between the feisty, aging southern white woman and her black driver parallels events in the Civil Rights movement. The play by Alfred Uhry won several Obie awards, given to off-Broadway productions, and four Academy Awards, including best picture, after it was made into a movie starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.
Mouloupolis said the Rep had strong auditions for the three roles, which were won by Jean Mills as Daisy, Chuck Crockett as Hoke, and Matt Kizaur as Boolie.
The show runs through January at the Tenth Street Stage.
The Village Players' It Had To Be You is a two-person play directed by Aggie Alt.
"Its about a woman who has been trying to be a successful actress for years and has never made it past B movies," said Debbie Marinik, who plays Theda Blau, the actress. "At an audition, she meets a producer, and she gets him to come to her apartment on Christmas Eve. He thinks he's going for one reason, but she's getting him there so she can show him a play she has written and wants to star in.
"The entire play takes place in one evening; and it follows their relationship, how it goes from point A to point Z," Marinik said.
It Had To Be You was written and initially performed by actor Joseph Bologna and his wife, Renee Taylor, who played Fran Drescher's mother on the TV show The Nanny.
For the Village Players' production, producer Vito Pignoli is played by Larry Farley, whom Marinik has known for a long time. "The last thing I did was the female Odd Couple, and it was directed by Larry," she said. "I think we work well together."
It Had To Be You is just a cute comedy, Marinik said, adding that she believes it would appeal to "anybody from teenagers to as long as you can laugh." The show runs through Jan. 24 in the theater on Upton Avenue.
"Driving Miss Daisy" runs through January in the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, 16 Tenth St. Performances are 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $16 for adults and $14 for seniors. Anyone named Daisy gets in free with proof of identification. Information: 419-243-9277.
"It Had To Be You" runs through Jan. 24 in the Village Players Theatre, 2740 Upton Ave. Performances are at 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday with a matinee at 2 p.m. Jan. 18. Tickets are $14 for adults and $12 for students and seniors. Information: 419-472-6817