Lydia C. Lee is still trying to work out what to do with her one wild and precious life. She currently is a haphazard blogger. Read more at holidazeandhellidaze.blogspot.com.au or www.pandoraandmax.blogspot.com
The publicity machine is starting and the word of mouth is spreading. Driving Miss Daisy has hit our shores with two of the best beloved actors of many generations.
I had been so excited at the news of this unmissable performance that I booked my ticket and flight to Brisbane back in August last year. I finally got my turn to experience what the reviews were calling a joyous occasion.
The play is funny, sentimental in an endearing fashion and touches on issues of racism and social change, using the microscope of a small and aging family in the South. We lift the curtain on three lives at intervals over 20 years, and see the relationships evolving, one way or another. The characters are very likeable but as in real life, no one is perfect by any means.
The play itself was written in 1987 by Alfred Uhry and is the first in a trilogy about members of the Jewish community in Atlanta. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Driving Miss Daisy, and he won Tony awards for the other two, The Last Night of Bally-Hoo and Parade, when they were on Broadway. He also adapted Driving Miss Daisy for the 1989 film and won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screen Play.
It is virtually impossible not to have seen some of Angela Lansbury's work. She has starred in over 44 movies and had a theatrical career for over 50 years, winning 4 Tony awards for work on Broadway, countless Golden Globe awards and number of Academy Award nominations.
The other lead in this production is James Earl Jones, another many award winning actor, with two Tony awards, an Academy award and a Golden Globe to his name as well as too many nominations in all categories to mention. He however, is best known for his role in the Star Wars franchise as Darth Vader, or Mufasa in the Lion King, depending on your age.
There is a third actor in this play, Boyd Gaines, who is, if not as well known on Australian shores by name, is recognisable by his many film and television appearances. He is equally busy on the stage and has 4 Tony awards to his name as well, and one of the very few actors to have been nominated for all four acting categories.
I am always a little nervous seeing movie stars on stage, but in this production, there was no disappointment. I adored Angela Lansbury's portrayal, and loved the way she aged her character without the aid of make up or costume changes.
James Earl Jones is known for his commanding voice, and yet the Southern accented man on stage had quite a different sound. He too ages throughout the play and his mannerisms are also marked as time goes by.
Boyd Gaines is not overshadowed by the other cast, and the three all interact with affection or frustration, and at times I almost felt I was intruding on a family's private moments.
The set is simple yet works wonderfully to direct the focus on the characters yet still providing the sense of setting and location.
An interesting touch in this play is the number of other characters who we never see ourselves but are portrayed quite strongly through the eyes of the main characters.
However, what I liked most about this production, and the play itself, is that it's just great entertainment. It's very funny, with clever lines, and real humans, who you feel for, when their world is changing, sometimes a little too fast for them or not fast enough.
This wonderful production is touring, and will hit Sydney's Theatre Royal for the month of March, before moving on to Melbourne's Comedy Theatre from April 5th until the 12th of May, then finishing at Her Majesty's for a few weeks from the 18th May until 2nd of June. Finally onto His Majesty's Theatre from June 8th for only 12 performances.
The Brisbane season was a sellout, so you may find you need to get in quick.