Ramblin' Rhodes: 'Miss Daisy' brings attention to Waynesboro show series

It’s hard to believe that the good folks down in Waynesboro, Ga., are opening their 37th season with actually a pre-season production of the play Driving Miss Daisy.


The comedy-drama, set in Atlanta from 1947 to 1973, will be staged at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 18, in the Burke Office Park Auditorium, 715 West Sixth St.

Tickets cost $15 advance, $20 at the door, for adults and $5 for students available at 1st National Bank, Burke County Library and from Downtown Development Director Don Lively at (706) 554-8018 and the concert board at (706) 437-0070.

Mical Whitaker portrays black, middle-age chauffeur Hoke Colburn hired, by a Jewish businessman, Boolie Werthan, played by Alan Tyson, to drive his elderly mother, Daisy Werthan, played by Carol Thompson.

Whitaker, a native of Metter, Ga., spent 20 years living in New York City, where he developed his own theater company, The East River Players.

Among his many accomplishments during that period was producing the nationally syndicated radio show The Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee Story Hour.

He worked with both Whitney Houston and Patti La Belle on projects before they became internationally famous.

After returning to Georgia in 1981, he spent 23 years teaching drama at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, where he either acted in or directed roughly 100 productions and retired in 2005 as professor emeritus.

Many Augustans know Whitaker from his involvement with area groups such as the Augusta Mini Theatre.

All offerings in the 2016-17 series begin at 7 p.m. at the Burke Office Park Auditorium unless noted otherwise:

The Drifters, classic rock ’n’ roll act, Monday, Oct. 3, Burke County High School Auditorium

Ball in the House, an a cappella vocal band from Boston that sings pop and rhythm & blues hits to their own beat-box sounds, Thursday, Nov. 17.

The Piano Men, tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John, starring Canadian country and Christian music songwriter/singer Jim Witter, Friday, Jan. 27.

Classic Nashville Roadshow, co-starring Jason Petty, who has toured with a Hank Williams tribute show, and Katie Deal, daughter of Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, who has performed a solo Patsy Cline tribute show, Saturday, March 25.

Clovers & Company, Georgia’s 4-H performing arts group, Saturday, April 29.

Season tickets are priced at $45, two for $90 and four for $150 available through iTickets.com, the Burke County Chamber of Commerce or Burke County Library.

Visit burkeconcert.org or call (706) 437-0070 for additional information.

The stated goal of the group, headed by its board of directors president, Kaye Jones, is to be “a community supported volunteer organization whose purpose is to support and strengthen the role of arts in the area.”

Founded in 1979 by the Town and Country Women’s Club, the series was reorganized in 2003 with the name changed to the Waynesboro-Burke County Concert Series Inc. to reflect both the city and county.


JAKE OWEN AT THE IMPERIAL: Country music performer Jake Owen will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7, at the Imperial Theatre to benefit the TGen Foundation and honor local cancer survivor Laurie Parkhurst. Read her story at lauriesfund.org.

TGen conducts biomedical research targeting cancer, neurological disorders and infectious disease in both children and adults.

Tickets starting at $50 go on sale Sept. 2 through the Imperial’s box office and online at imperialtheatre.com.

Owen, who played for the Florida State University golf team, grew up in Vero Beach, Fla., with his twin brother, Jarrod. Their father, Steve Owen, repeatedly has competed in The Augusta Futurity as a rider and as a horse owner.


OUT OF AFRICA FINAL DAYS: The simply jaw-dropping Out of Africa exhibit at the North Augusta Arts & Heritage Center on the first floor of the North Augusta Municipal Building closes out Friday, Aug. 19.

Do yourself a huge favor and go by 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through this Friday to see this privately owned collection with more than 80 pieces of African art. You will not believe the intricate carving work and giant sizes with some as high as 10 feet or more.

Also closing out in the balcony gallery is the exhibit “North Augusta City Government and Public Safety Through the Years” paying homage to the current and past mayors and the city’s fire and police departments.


ERIC CHURCH AND HIS FURNITURE: You might think it is a stretch to see country music performer Eric Church in TV commercials promoting his “Highway to Home” line of furniture that is available in RoomsToGo stores and selected retail outlets, but it really isn’t.

Church grew up in Granite Falls, N.C., an area that is to furniture making what Dalton, Ga., is to the carpet industry.

His father, Ken Church, is a longtime furniture industry executive who was formerly president of Clayton Marcus, Ladd Upholstery and Southern Furniture.

Eric Church worked in the Clayton Marcus upholstery plants growing up.

In a phone interview before coming to Augusta for A Day in the Country festival, Church told this columnist about his father, “I get a lot of my work ethic from him.

“He began working part time for four years guarding the lumber yard at Broyhill Furniture,” Church said. “He would drive an hour to school at Appalachian State (in Boone, N.C.), go to classes and then drive back to home an hour and guard the lumberyard at night.”

Young Church was a talented athlete who played basketball, baseball and golf in high school in Hudson, N.C.

He also attended Appalachian State but wanted to drop out to head for Nashville, Tenn., and pursue his love of music.

“I wanted to move to Nashville two years before I graduated from college,” he told me, “but my dad made me a deal. He said, ‘If you will graduate, I will pay for your first six months in Nashville,’ which I thought was a pretty good offer. I did graduate with a degree in marketing, and he was true to his word.”

Since his first album, Sinners Like Me, came out in 2006, recordings by Church have been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and have sold nearly 5 million copies. His 2001 album Chief won both the Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards for Album of the Year.

You can learn more about Church and his line of furniture at ericchurch.com/highwaytohome.