The New York Times also recently reported that producers of the limited engagement, which is currently scheduled to run through Jan. 29, 2011, are currently in negotiations with the play's two stars, Redgrave and James Earl Jones, to extend the run through the spring. The play's spokesperson had no comment about the possible extension.
Directed by David Esbjornson (The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?), the production began previews Oct. 7 and officially opened at the John Golden Theatre Oct. 25. The cast boasts Academy Award nominee Jones, Redgrave and fellow Tony winner Boyd Gaines as, respectively, Hoke Colburn, Daisy Werthan and Boolie Werthan.
From its Off-Broadway production in 1987 to the success of the Oscar-winning film version (four Academy Awards, including Best Picture), Driving Miss Daisy, according to producers, "is a timeless, searing, funny, and ultimately hopeful meditation on race relations in America, told through the complex relationship between two of popular culture's most enduring characters."
The play concerns Daisy Werthan, "a widowed, 72-year-old Jewish woman living in midcentury Atlanta, [who] is deemed too old to drive, [and] her son hires Hoke Colburn, 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."
Director Esbjornson said, "One of the remarkable things about this group of people is that we have a really good shot at making this play feel very current. …I think there's such particular energies coming from these three [actors] that I think the experience is going to feel new. I hope it will. That's certainly my experience already in the rehearsal room and I hope it translates [on stage]." Of the production's visual world, the director said, "[The original Off-Broadway production] was simple, and it was the right thing at that particular moment in time because that's what Off-Broadway was about. It was celebrating the language and the actors, and we're trying to do the same thing here. We're trying to honor that impulse as much as possible.
"But...we have a movie that has happened in between, so there are certain kinds of expectations [with] movies. …What I love about this material is, it is inherently theatrical and it puts the actors front and center, and the physical production is actually meant to do that. It's a celebration of this great talent in an intimate space. You get up close and personal with these icons of theatre, and yet at the same time, we're adding some visual things. We are working with a little bit of projection. We have scenic elements that didn't exist in the Off-Broadway production, like a staircase, things like that. But it is fragments — and those fragments break apart and come together and participate in the storytelling."
The production features scenic design by John Lee Beatty, costume design by Jane Greenwood, lighting design by Peter Kaczorowski, projection design by Wendall K. Harrington and sound design by Christopher Cronin with music by Mark Bennett.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Uhry received the Academy Award for his screenplay of Driving Miss Daisy, and is the recipient of two Tony Awards – for his play The Last Night of Ballyhoo (Best Play 1997), and his book for the musical Parade (1998).
James Earl Jones won Tony Awards for his performances in The Great White Hope and Fences and was also Tony-nominated for his work in On Golden Pond. The actor has also been seen on Broadway in Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, "MASTER HAROLD"…and the boys, Othello, A Lesson from Aloes, Paul Robeson, Of Mice and Men, The Iceman Cometh, Les Blancs, A Hand Is on the Gate, Danton's Death, Infidel Caesar, The Cool Wind and Sunrise at Campobello. Jones' screen credits are numerous and include an Oscar-nominated performance in "The Great White Hope" and Emmy-winning turns in "Gabriel's Fire" and "Heat Wave."
Vanessa Redgrave is a Tony winner for her performance as matriarch Mary Tyrone in the recent revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night, and she was also Tony-nominated for her work in The Year of Magical Thinking. The acclaimed actress also earned an Oscar for her performance the film "Julia."
Boyd Gaines has won Tony Awards for his performances in Gypsy (2008), The Heidi Chronicles (1989), She Loves Me (1994) and Contact (2000). He was also Tony-nominated in 2007 for his work in the revival of Journey's End.
The performance schedule is Monday and Wednesday-Saturday at 8 PM, and Tuesday at 7 PM with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2 PM.
John Golden Theatre is located at 252 West 45th Street. Tickets, priced $65-$125, are currently on sale via Telecharge.com.