Earl Jones drives Redgrave into West End

Published June 27, 2011

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones are to return to the London stage this autumn to reprise their roles in the recent Broadway production of Driving Miss Daisy. The pair will appear alongside their New York co-star Boyd Gaines at the Wyndham’s theatre from 26 September to 17 December (press night 5 October).

Alfred Uhry’s 1987 play is best known for the 1989 big screen adaptation which starred Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy. Set in the American deep south during the 1950s and 60s, it centres on aging, widowed Jewish woman Daisy Werthan, whose son hires African American man Hoke Coleburn to be her chauffeur. What begins as a troubled and hostile pairing soon blossoms into a profound friendship that transcends the societal boundaries between them.

A member of one of British theatre’s best-known acting dynasties, Redgrave (Daisy) returns to the London stage following her appearance in The Year Of Magical Thinking at the National Theatre in 2008. Her long career has included previous London appearances in Hecuba for the Royal Shakespeare Company and John Gabriel Borkman and The Cherry Orchard at the National Theatre. A prolific screen actress, her film work stretches from 1960s classics Isadora and Oh! What A Lovely War to recent movies Atonement, Venus, The Whistleblower and Wallace Shawn’s The Fever.

Earl Jones (Hoke) was last seen on the West End stage in another Broadway transfer, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, which played at the Novello theatre in 2009, winning the 2010 Olivier Award for Best Revival. His many Broadway appearances include The Great White Hope and Fences, which both won him Tony Awards, while his many films include Coming To America, The Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games and, as a voiceover artist, Star Wars and The Lion King. 

Gaines, who reprises his role as Daisy’s son Boolie, is a four-time Tony Award winner whose work includes Gypsy, Journey’s End, Twelve Angry Men and She Loves Me.

The trio appeared in Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway from October 2010 to April 2011, with Redgrave picking up a Tony nomination for her performance. 

David Esbjornson’s production comes to London’s Wyndham’s theatre following Much Ado About Nothing, starring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, which ends its run on 3 September.

CB