Producers Jed Bernstein and Adam Zotovich announced today that Tony Award-winners James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave will return to the New York stage this Fall to star opposite one another in the Broadway Premiere of Alfred Uhry‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Driving Miss Daisy. Directed by David Esbjornson (The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia?), Driving Miss Daisy will begin performances on October 7, 2010, at the John Golden Theatre (252 West 45th Street), with an official opening on Monday, October 25, 2010.
Both icons of the stage, Ms. Redgrave has enjoyed an extraordinary career that includes her Tony Award-winning performance in Long Day's Journey Into Night, and her memorable last Broadway appearance in Joan Didion‘s The Year of Magical Thinking, for which she was also nominated for the Tony Award; Mr. Jones made his Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning play, Sunrise at Campobello in 1958, and Driving Miss Daisy caps a career that includes his starring roles in the original Broadway production of Fences, for which he won the Tony Award, and his Tony-winning (and Oscar nominated) performance in The Great White Hope.
In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, Mr. 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).
From its landmark Off-Broadway production in 1987 to the remarkable success of the Oscar-winning film version (4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture), Driving Miss Daisy has become one of the most beloved American stories of the late twentieth century.
Mr. Uhry‘s classic play 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. When Daisy Werthan, a widowed, 72-year-old Jewish woman living in midcentury Atlanta, is deemed too old to drive, 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.
Additional news will be announced soon.
James Earl Jones. Listening to James Earl Jones‘s voice-recognized around the world-one would never guess that he spent his childhood as a virtual mute due to a severe stuttering problem. With the help of an extraordinary high school teacher, Jones overcame his stutter and transformed his weakness into his greatest strength. Today, Jones voice is known by people of all ages and walks of life-the Star Wars fans who know him as the voice of Darth Vader, children who know him as Mufasa from Disney‘s The Lion King, those who hear him intone -This is CNN? while watching the news, and the countless people who use Verizon phone services, for which he was the exclusive spokesperson for many years. Born in Mississippi and raised in Michigan, James Earl Jones moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Michigan and serving in the military. Supporting himself by working as a janitor, he struggled to make it as an actor and made his Broadway debut in 1957. Renowned Broadway producer, Joseph Papp gave Jones one of his first major breakthroughs, casting him as Michael Williams in Shakespeare‘s Henry V. A true visionary, Papp was credited with injecting a -dash of social conscience? into the performance by casting an African-American in the role. This marked the beginning of Jones‘s long affiliation with the New York Shakespeare Festival, eventually counting the title roles of Othello, Macbeth, and King Lear among his many distinguished performances for the company. Based on his success in the theater, he began to be cast in small television roles. In the 1960s, Jones was one of the first African- American actors to appear regularly in daytime soap operas (playing a doctor in both -The Guiding Light? and -As the World Turns?), and he made his film debut in 1964 in Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. In 1969, Jones won a Tony Award for his breakthrough role as boxer Jack Johnson in the Broadway hit, The Great White Hope (which also garnered him an Oscar nomination for the 1970 film adaptation). He won a second Tony Award in 1987 for August Wilson's Fences, in which he played a former baseball player who finds it difficult to communicate with his son. Although he was cast in numerous leading roles in films in the 1970s, including The Man (1972), Claudine (1974), The River Niger (1975) and The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars and Motor Kings (1976), Jones continued to make his biggest impression on stage. In addition to his celebrated Shakespearian work, he began a long-standing collaboration with South African playwright Athol Fugard, acting in The Blood Knot, Boseman and Lena, and the critically acclaimed Master Harold...and the Boys, among others. His film performances of the 1980s included his work as the oppressed coal miner in John Sayles' Matewan (1987) and as the embittered writer in Field of Dreams (1989), while the '90s found him in the thick of the Tom Clancy blockbuster trilogy--The Hunt for Red October, Patriot Games, and Clear and Present Danger--as well as in the film version of the Alan Paton classic Cry, the Beloved Country (1995). His career also includes a wide range of television work. He played Alex Haley in Roots: The Next Generation (1979), Junius Johnson (an Emmy-winning performance) in Heat Wave, the 1990 TNT drama about the 1965 riots in Watts, and a great number of guest roles in series ranging from -The Defenders? and -Dr. Kildare? to more recently, -Two and a Half Men.? He also earned an Emmy as Gabriel Bird, a disgraced cop turned private investigator, in the 1990-92 series -Gabriel's Fire.? In addition to the many awards he has received as an actor--two Tonys, four Emmys, a Golden Globe, two Cable ACEs, two OBIEs, five Drama Desks, and a Grammy--Jones has been honored with the National Medal of Arts in 1992 and the John F. Kennedy Center Honor in December 2002. He also was honored by the Screen Actors Guild with the Lifetime Achievement Award in January of 2009. In the spring of 2005, James Earl Jones starred on Broadway a critically acclaimed revival of On Golden Pond for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. In 2006, he also starred as Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall in the production of Thurgood at the Westport County Playhouse and in spring of 2008 portrayed ?Big Daddy‘ in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway with cast members Terrance Howard, Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad. James Earl Jones recently finished a second run of Cat on Hot Tin Roof on stage in London with Adrian Lester, Sanaa Lathan, and again Phylicia Rashad. The production won an Olivier Award for Best Revival and Mr. Jones was nominated for an Olivier in the Best Actor category. For more information on James Earl Jones‘s life and career, please see his autobiography, Voices and Silences, available through bookstores and online retailers.
Vanessa Redgrave last appeared on Broadway in The Year of Magical Thinking and the landmark 2003 production of Long Day's Journey Into Night, for which she received the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Her other Broadway appearances include the acclaimed revivals of Tennessee
Williams‘ Orpheus Descending and Ibsen‘s The Lady From the Sea. Off-Broadway, Ms. Redgrave performed in The Public Theater production of Antony and Cleopatra, which she also directed, and Vita and Virginia, in addition to scores of major roles on stage in her native England. In 1998, she and her brother Corin co-produced an early Tennessee Williams play, Not About Nightingales, which Ms. Redgrave discovered at the Royal National Theatre; directed by Sir Trevor Nunn, it then played at Circle in the Square. In 2005, Ms. Redgrave played Euripides‘ Hecuba for the RSC, directed by Tony Harrison, at the Kennedy Center and then at Bam. Ms. Redgrave‘s many films include, among others, Morgan, A Suitable Case for Treatment; A Man for All Seasons; Blow-Up; Camelot; Isadora; Mary, Queen of Scots; Julia; The Bostonians; Wetherby, written and directed by David Hare; Prick Up Your Ears; Howards End; A Month by the Lake; Mrs. Dalloway; Cradle Will Rock; The White Countess; Venus; Atonement; Evening and, most recently, Letters to Juliet. Her American television work includes Arthur Miller‘s -Playing for Time,? -Second Serve,? -If These Walls Could Talk 2,? -The Gathering Storm? and the upcoming HBO film of Wallace Shawn‘s -The Fever,? directed by Carlo Nero. She has received an Academy Award, two Emmys, two Cannes Film Festival Awards, three Evening Standard Awards, the Olivier Award, the SAG Award, two Golden Globes, the New York Film Critics Circle Award and the National Society of Film Critics Award. Ms. Redgrave has been a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, the United Nations Children‘s Fund, since 1995. Dissent Projects, the film company she co-founded with Carl Nero, has just completed a documentary, Wake Up World, in tribute to UNICEF‘s 60th Anniversary.
Alfred Uhry is distinguished as the only American playwright to have won a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award and two Tony Awards. A graduate oF Brown University, Uhry began his professional career as a lyric writer under contract to the late Frank Loesser. In that capacity, he made his Broadway debut in 1968 with Here's Where I Belong. His first major success came when he collaborated with Robert Waldman on a musical adaptation of Eudora Welty‘s The Robber Bridegroom, which opened at the Mark Taper Forum in 1976 and went on to Broadway, winning Mr. Uhry his first Tony nomination. He followed that with five re-created musicals at the Goodspeed Opera House. His first play, Driving Miss Daisy opened at Playwrights Horizons Theatre in New York in 1987. It moved subsequently to the John Houseman Theatre where it ran for three years and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. The film version, starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy, won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay in 1990. The film also won the Best Picture Award. His next play, The Last Night of Ballyhoo, was commissioned by the Cultural Olympiad for the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. It opened on Broadway the next year where it ran for over 500 performances and won Uhry the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Drama League Award and the 1997 Tony Award for Best Play. His book for the musical, Parade, directed by Harold Prince with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, won the Tony Award in 1999. A revised production at the Donmar Theatre in London won Mr. Uhry an Olivier Award Nomination and went on to Los Angeles where it opened to rave reviews in October, 2009. His play, Without Walls, starring Laurence Fishburne, opened at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles in June of 2006. His next play, Edgardo Mine, played the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis in 2006 and the book for LoveMusik, a musical about Kurt Weill and Lotte Lenya ran on Broadway in 2007. It was directed by Harold Prince. For this, Mr. Uhry won another Drama Desk nomination. He is currently finishing a play commissioned by the Manhattan Theatre Club.
David Esbjornson‘s most recent work includes: Molly Ivins/Red Hot Patriot by Allison and Margaret Engels starring Kathleen Turner, a highly acclaimed production of Hamlet with Theatre for a New Audience featuring Christian Camargo, Arthur Miller‘s All My Sons at the Huntington, the American premiere of Moira Buffini‘s Dinner at Bay Street Theatre, the world premieres of Peter Parnell‘s Trumpery at the Atlantic with Michael Christopher and The Great Gatsby, which inaugurated the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. Mr. Esbjornson served as Artistic Director of Seattle Repertory Theatre from 2006-09. His directing credits in Seattle include the premieres of Ariel Dorfman‘s Purgatorio, Kevin Kling‘s How? How? Why? Why? Why?, The Breach, the first major revival of Albee‘s Lady from Dubuque with Myra Carter and Shakespeare‘s Twelfth Night. David has also staged world premieres of Kathleen Tolan‘s Memory House with Dianne Weist at Playwrights Horizons, Tuesdays with Morrie by Jeffrey Hatcher and Mitch Albom with Alvin Epstein at NY Stage & Film, the Minetta Lane NYC and Seattle Repertory, In the Blood by Suzan-Lori Parks with Charlayne Woodard at The Public, My Old Lady by Israel Horowitz with Peter Friedman,
Jan Maxwell and Sian Philips at the Promenade Theatre, Neil Simon‘s Rose and Walsh with Jane Alexander and Len Cariou at The Geffen, Exposed by Beth Henley at NY Stage & Film, Tony Kushner‘s Homebody/Kabul with Kika Markham at Chelsea Centre, London, The Promise by Jose Rivera at EST and the American premiere of Patrick Marber‘s Dealer's Choice at The Long Wharf. Also, the West End London premiere of A Few Good Men by Aaron Sorkin with Rob Lowe, Much Ado About Nothing at New York Shakespeare Festival with Jimmy Smitts, Kristen Johnston and Sam Waterston, the critically acclaimed revival of Larry Kramer‘s The Normal Heart with Raul Esparza and Joanna Gleason at The Public, and Mud/Drowning by Irene Fornes at The Signature. Mr. Esbjornson has worked with Arthur Miller on two new works: The Ride Down Mt. Morgan at The Public and on Broadway, and the world premiere of Resurrection Blues at Guthrie Theatre. He has also had a long-standing relationship with Edward Albee, directing the Tony Award-winning play The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at The Golden, The Play About the Baby at Century Theatre, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Guthrie and The Lady from Dubuque at Seattle Repertory. David has helmed four Fund for New American Plays world premieres: Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and the first staged production of Perestroika by Tony Kushner at Eureka Theatre, Another Part of the House (after Lorca) by Migdalia Cruz at CSC, the trilogy New Music by novelist Reynolds Price at Cleveland Playhouse and Jose? Rivera‘s Street of the Sun at Mark Taper Forum. Mr. Esbjornson was the artistic director with the Classic Stage Company, where he directed many award- winning productions, including The?re?se Raquin with Elizabeth Marvel, The Entertainer with Brian Murray and Jean Stapleton, Iphigenia and Other Daughters, Endgame, The Maids and Entertaining Mr. Sloane. He has been a resident director at the O‘Neill Festival, Iowa Playwrights Festival and New Harmony and has developed and directed plays by many other writers including Romulus Linney, Ann-Marie McDonald, John Belusso, Paula Vogel, John Henry Redwood, Peter Ullian, David Ives, Katrina Filloux, Tarrel McCraney, Joe Sutton and others. David received OBIE Awards for Hamlet and The?re?se Raquin, Lucille Lortel Awards for Entertaining Mr. Sloane and for Body of Work (at Classic Stage Company), Bay Area Critics‘ Awards for Angels in America, CT Critics Circle Awards for Dealer's Choice, Friends of NY- Best Directing Award for Ride Down Mt. Morgan, Drama Desk nominations for Endgame and Iphigenia and Other Daughters, the Minneapolis Star Tribune Production of the Year for Summer and Smoke, the TCG Directing Fellowship, the NYTW New Director‘s Project/production-Farmyard, the Quinn Martin Honorary Chair at University of California San Diego, and a Distinguished Alumni citation from Gustavus Adolphus College. David holds an M.F.A. from New York University (Seldman Award for Excellence in Directing)