Patron Saint: Graviss’ McDonald’s gives back through theater

Why should a local business jump at the opportunity to sponsor a local theater?

“When you look at what’s important to businesspeople, as to why they stay or locate to somewhere — quality of life, I would argue, is a bigger incentive than taxes,” said McDonald’s restaurant franchisee Joe Graviss. “Business people will go where the enjoyment of life is. The theater is a big part of life in our communities.”

That is the first point to take away from a conversation with Graviss about why his business chooses to sponsor theater in Woodford County. But it is not the only point.

Graviss’ McDonald’s restaurants are currently sponsoring the Woodford Theatre production of Driving Miss Daisy, directed by former Woodford theater executive/artistic director Beth Kirchner.

“Before Driving Miss Daisy, we sponsored the Depression-era play Smoke On the Mountain. We’ve been going to Woodford Theatre for many years as patrons and thoroughly enjoy the professionalism and quality of their work,” Graviss said.

Woodford Theatre regulars will be looking forward to Beth Kirchner’s involvement in Driving Miss Daisy. While the production is familiar to many due to the film version starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, it’s a great treat to see something so well-loved brought to life with living, breathing actors within mere feet of the audience.

Graviss mentioned Beth Kirchner as the person who initially floated the notion to him of sponsoring individual shows at the theater.

“We had become Arts Angels (contributors) and helped with seating at the theater,” he said. “Beth asked if we could help them with some contributions to fund their programs. We thought they did such great work and had such great crowds coming. The community embraced them. We wanted to support something that the community supported.”

That reflects the second point that Graviss stresses about why his business sponsors theater.

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