Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Driving Miss Daisy, a 2010 hit on Broadway, comes to television with five-time Tony Award winner and three-time Academy Award® nominee Angela Lansbury and two-time Tony Award winner and Academy Award® winner James Earl Jones as Daisy Werthan and Hoke Colburn, respectively. Actor Boyd Gaines (a four-time Tony Award winner) reprises his Broadway role as Boolie Werthan.
Directed for the stage by David Esbjornson, Driving Miss Daisy airs on Great Performances Friday, July 17 at 9 p.m. on PBS. (Check local listings.)
The production was recorded in Australia at the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne.
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.
Their iconic tale of pride, changing times and the transformative power of friendship has warmed the hearts of millions worldwide.
From its landmark Off-Broadway production in 1987 to the remarkable success of the Oscar-winning film version with Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman (four Academy Awards, including Best Picture), Driving Miss Daisy has become one of the most beloved American stories of the late twentieth century.
When this revival opened on Broadway (with Vanessa Redgrave as Daisy Werthan), Bloomberg News declared, “The enchanting revival…is the best theater can be.” And The Wall Street Journal called it “A perfect night on Broadway. Do whatever you have to do to get a ticket!”
Lansbury has won Tony Awards for her roles in “Blithe Spirit,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Gypsy,” “Dear World” and “Mame” and received nominations for “A Little Night Music” and “Deuce.” Other Broadway credits include “Hotel Paradiso,” “The King and I” and “A Taste of Honey,” and she is well known to TV audiences as the star of long-running series “Murder, She Wrote.” Her numerous films include “Gaslight,” “Till the Clouds Roll By,” “Blue Hawaii,” “The Manchurian Candidate,” “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Death on the Nile,” and “The Mirror Crack’d.”
James Earl Jones
Multi-award winning Jones has won Tony Awards® for the Broadway productions of “The Great White Hope” and “Fences” and a Tony Award® nomination for the revival of “On Golden Pond.” His film credits include “The Great White Hope” (Oscar® nomination), “Dr. Strangelove,” “The Hunt for Red October,” “A Clear and Present Danger” and “Field of Dreams.” On television his credits include “Gabriel’s Fire” and “Heat Wave,” receiving Emmy Awards for both. He is well known for his voiceover work including Darth Vader in the “Star Wars” films and the voice of Mufasa in Disney’s “The Lion King.”
Alfred Uhry and Creative Team
Uhry is distinguished as the only American playwright to have won a Pulitzer Prize, an Academy Award and two Tony Awards. His first play, “Driving Miss Daisy,” opened Off Broadway in 1987 and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. Other works include: “The Light Night of Ballyhoo” (Tony Award), “Parade” (Tony Award), “Without Walls” (starring Laurence Fishburne), “Edgardo Mine” (at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis), and the book for the Broadway musical “LoveMusik” (Drama Desk nomination).
The creative team of Driving Miss Daisy includes John Lee Beaty (Scenic Design), Peter Kaczorowski (Lighting Design), Wendall K. Harrington (Projection Design), Christopher Cronin (Sound Design) and Mark Bennett (Composer).
Driving Miss Daisy was directed for the screen by Peter Ots. The production was filmed by Broadway Near You, a company founded by Ed Greenberg and Lee deBoer, in association with Umbrella Entertainment. The play was produced for the Australian stage by John Frost by special arrangement with Jed Bernstein and Adam Zotovich.