By Kathleen Swift • Photos by Mandy Edmonson

For 82 seasons now, Joplin Little Theatre has provided live theater productions for the Joplin community. This season continues the tradition of excellent productions this February with Driving Miss Daisy, starring Lisa Olliges as Daisy, Keenan Cortez as Hoke, and Shaun Conroy as Daisy’s son, Boolie.

“Live theater is a way for people to experience unique relationships and the emotions they can convey,” said Lisa Olliges. “Daisy is a woman who has always been independent, and she struggles with facing the loss of some of her independence as she ages. She finds more than a driver in Hoke, and their unique relationship spans decades and gives us a view of how friendship can be colorblind. This is an amazingly touching play and excellently written to share powerful moments between these two people.”

“We scheduled a talk-back to follow the Thursday performance so our audience can learn from the actors what their thoughts are about these characters,” said director Greg Green. “This friendship develops from 1948 to 1973. The play is a great vehicle for a discussion about race relations, respect and human dignity from both characters’ perspectives.” 

“I am very excited about playing the role of Hoke Coleburn in the upcoming production of Driving Miss Daisy,” said Keenan Cortez. “It is definitely stretching me in a good way. I hope that the audience will take away from the show the importance of relationships. We oftentimes wish for drive-thru style relationships that are quick and convenient and deprive ourselves of things that take time to develop. This play illustrates for us that with time, a deep and meaningful bond can be made, even if the people are from two differing worlds. I’m excited for the community to witness this unfold in the story of Hoke and Miss Daisy.”

“During the pandemic, we had to cancel our season for the first time since the 1940s during WWII,” noted Green. “But we are back with live performances!  There is just nothing like live theater. There is the immediate connection and interaction between the audience and the actors.  It creates an energy that is unique. In fact, we have a group of people who attend opening night of every performance regardless of the show because it is such a special experience.”

“I believe communication is a key element of community theater and all theatrical opportunities,” said Olliges. “Not only are funny, dramatic and human stories brought to life in front of our eyes, community theater is an opportunity for individuals to step outside their comfort zone on stage, become someone else for a while and even grow in confidence to speak in front of an audience. For adults and youth, it can be a learning and growing experience.”

This season of performances at Joplin Little Theatre includes a Valentine’s concert alongside the productions of The Man of La Mancha, coming in March, and Monty Python’s Spamalot, coming in May. 

If you have never experienced a live production at Joplin Little Theatre, make sure you get tickets to one of these productions. You are sure to find yourself caught up in the excitement of live theater.

Side Note:  

Looking for some live music to celebrate Valentine’s Day? Joplin Little Theatre presents All You Need is Love: The JLT Valentine Concert featuring hits of the Beatles February 12 at 6:30 pm and February 13 at 2:30 pm.

The program, directed by Carolyn McGowan, features a cast of adult and youth singers and dancers in concert featuring love songs of the Beatles.

The concert was inspired by Annie Clarkson, a long-time patron of Joplin Little Theatre, who passed away in 2021.

Annie had been working with Carolyn to create the Valentine show, and she provided funding for the royalties for the music. Carolyn hopes to make Annie’s wish take stage.

The Valentine Concert is a fundraiser for the theater that has been produced every other year by McGowan. Tickets are available only by phone for the Valentine’s Day Concert by calling 417.623.3638.

Driving Miss Daisy 

February 2-5, 2022, 7:30 pm

February 6, 2022   2:30 pm

Individual tickets are available by calling 417.623.3638 or online at

Watch the Joplin Little Theatre Facebook page for audition times for The Man of La Mancha and Monty Python’s Spamalot.