ART BEAT: Small cast puts on big performance with popular 'Driving Miss Daisy'

Special Photo: Jennifer Silas. "Driving Miss Daisy" continues at New London Theatre with weekend performances through June 26. Nat Martin, left, plays Hoke and Angie Short plays Daisy.

Special Photo: Jennifer Silas. "Driving Miss Daisy" continues at New London Theatre with weekend performances through June 26. Nat Martin, left, plays Hoke and Angie Short plays Daisy.

"Driving Miss Daisy" has the smallest cast of any show that New London Theatre has ever produced, but in the words of spokesman John Berlo, "This cast of three actors brings a whole world of experience to the table."

New London Theatre is presenting "Driving Miss Daisy" on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through June 26. Friday and Saturday performances are at 8 p.m. and Sundays' show time is 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Children and students are $10, and seniors are $10 for Sunday performances.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting the New London Theatre website at www.newlondontheatre.org or at the theater's box office located at 2485 E. Main St. in Snellville.

The three cast members bring with them not only experience but friendship. Angie Short, who plays Daisy, and Nat Martin, who plays Hoke, have known each other for many years and have often joked about playing these roles together.

When Barry West, the show's director, told the two actors about the opportunity, "We both knew we had to take it," Martin said. The undertaking is considerable: "Driving Miss Daisy" was not only a highly popular movie but also winner of the 1988 Pulitzer Prize and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play.

This will be Nat Martin's first production with New London Theatre. His resume is filled with experiences that include roles in such productions as "A Lesson Before Dying," "The Eight Reindeer Monologues," plus "Little Shop of Horrors," "Ragtime the Musical," and "Titanic the Musical" with Onstage Atlanta. He also performed in "I Do! I Do!," "Working," and "The Messiah: A Soulful Celebration" with Galaxy Music Theatre. Nat has also performed with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra in its summer concert series. He is an accomplished composer and arranger. Two of his musical collaborations with Pamela Parker were premiered at Marietta's Theatre in the Square.

The role of Daisy is played by Short, also making her debut at New London Theatre. She is a founding company member of OnStage Atlanta. She was recently seen in "Fuddy Meers" and "Christmas Belles" with OnStage Atlanta, plus "Wit and All in the Timing." She also enjoys behind the scenes action by way of stage managing, and set and prop design.

Mark Galloway-Stillions performs the role of Boolie. This will be his stage debut. Galloway-Stillions is currently the owner/manager of a retail establishment in Decatur.

"Driving Miss Daisy" might have three adults on stage, but behind the scenes, it is a different matter. New London Theatre is known for its development of young talent, mounting shows that incorporate many youth interested in or involved in theatre. The current production's limit of three adult actors has not meant that the younger talent hasn't gotten involved.

"The entire backstage crew consists of 14- to 16-year-olds," Berlo said. "Jennifer Behret and Dee Dee Spangler assist the actors through more than 30 costume changes while Megan Spangler is credited as stage manager. Their mother, Lorie Behret, rounds out the tech crew running lights, and making the onstage support a family affair."

For more information about "Driving Miss Daisy" and any of the other upcoming New London Theatre productions and auditions, visit www.newlondontheatre.org or call 770-559-1484.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. Email her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.