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Previewed 26 September 2011, Opened 5 October 2011, Closed 17 December 2011 at the Wyndham's Theatre in London
A major revival of Alfred Uhry's play Driving Miss Daisy in London starring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones and directed by David Esbjornson.
When Daisy Werthan, a widowed, 72 year-old Jewish woman living in midcentury Atlanta, is deemed too old to drive, her son Boolie hires Hoke Coleburn, an African American man, to serve as her chauffeur. What begins as a troubled and hostile pairing soon blossoms into a profound, life-altering friendship that transcends all the societal boundaries placed between them. A charming, poignant and utterly compelling tale of the unlikely, long-lasting friendship that blossoms between a prickly, elderly Southern matriarch and her kind-hearted chauffeur that is both sparklingly funny and irresistibly heart-warming.
The cast of Driving Miss Daisy in London stars Vanessa Redgrave as 'Daisy Werthan', James Earl Jones as 'Hoke Coleburn' and Boyd Gaines as 'Boolie Werthan'. The production is directed by David Esbjornson with designs by John Lee Beatty, costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting by Peter Kaczorowski, music by Mark Bennett and sound by Christopher Cronin. This production was originally presented on Broadway in New York at the Golden Theatre from October 2010 to April 2011 starring Vanessa Redgrave who was nominated for a Tony Award for this role. James Earl Jones was last on stage in London's West End playing 'Big Daddy' opposite Phylicia Rashad as 'Big Mama' in Tennessee Williams' Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Novello Theatre 2009). Vanessa Redgrave's recent West End credits Tony Harrison adaptation of Euripides' Hecuba for the Royal Shakespeare Company (Noel Coward Theatre 2005). David Esbjornson directed the London West End stage premiere of Aaron Sorkin's A Few Good Men starring Rob Lowe as 'Daniel Kaffee' (Haymarket Theatre 2005).
"[Vanessa Redgrave] is perfect in the role of the frosty, formidable Miss Daisy Werthan, bespectacled and wearing a hair band, an ol' white Southern lady, and Jewish to boot, struggling to cope with the modern world and her new black chauffeur... James Earl Jones is glorious as Hoke, giving an absolutely lovable performance, what with his basso profundo laugh, his boyish grin every time he gets in behind the wheel of the Oldsmobile, his stance, his delivery, the way he stands, slump-shouldered and disconsolate, just before saying something really funny... There's good support, too, from Boyd Gaines as Daisy's son, Boolie. It all adds up to a 90-minute miniaturist delight." The Sunday Times
"Alfred Uhry's Driving Miss Daisy , about a Southern white widow and her black chauffeur in the Fifties, began small in 1987, in a tiny off-Broadway theatre, then made it big as an Oscar-winning movie with Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. It's a predictable ride, but a star vehicle. A revival on Broadway last year with James Earl Jones as the driver Hoke and Vanessa Redgrave as Miss Daisy was rapturously received. The production has now arrived in the West End... It's all very 'let's pretend', with imaginary car doors closing with an authentically hefty clunk, putting a heavy emphasis on the acting. Redgrave and Jones are weighty actors capable of dazzling in complex roles, but Uhry's characters appear rather skimpy and his play a bit soft." The Mail on Sunday
"Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman proved a formidable pairing as Miss Daisy and Hoke, her driver, in the Oscar-winning 1989 film version of Alfred Uhry's stage play, but Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones give them more than a run for their money in David Esbjornson's production, which has motored here straight from Broadway. Miss Redgrave is a lot less sweet than the late Miss Tandy, and I had a real sense of how terrifying she must have seemed to Earl Jones's good-natured Hoke when he first makes her acquaintance. The journey Earl Jones makes towards becoming the backseat-driver-from-hell's 'best friend' is told with no great adornment, but enormous sensitivity. Uhry's play amounts to a simple plea for more kindness in the world, and its principals make it with conviction and dignity." The Sunday Telegraph
Driving Miss Daisy in London at the Wyndham's Theatre previewed from 26 September 2011, opened on 5 October 2011 and closed on 17 December 2011.