'Driving Miss Daisy' -- a revival or a new play?
The Tony Awards aren't until, June but there's already one Broadway production that appears certain to garner some major nominations. Alfred Uhry's "Driving Miss Daisy" opened this week at the John Golden Theatre to strong reviews, especially for its two stars, James Earl Jones and Vanessa Redgrave.
"Driving Miss Daisy" isn't a new play, but it is new to Broadway. The drama opened in 1987 at the off-Broadway Playwrights Horizons, where it was an instant hit, and has since been produced at regional theaters around the country.
When it comes to old plays making their Broadway debuts, the rules for the Tony Awards are often tricky and even haphazard. In 2002, Ivan Turgenev's "Fortune's Fool" made its Broadway debut. The production, directed by the late Arthur Penn, ended up receiving a nomination for best play, not revival, despite the fact that it is a classic work well over 100 years old.
Meanwhile, last season, David Mamet's "Oleanna" was deemed a revival by Tony organizers following its Broadway debut. The production, which originated at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, represented the first time that the 1992 play had been performed on a Broadway stage.
How will Tony organizers treat "Miss Daisy"? According to recent Tony rules, a production can qualify as a "revival" if the committee deems the work a "classic" or part of "the popular or historical repertoire" -- which is to say that it's a subjective call.
Common sense would seem to dictate that "Miss Daisy" is part of the "popular or historical repertoire" and would thus be eligible for the "revival" category. But don't be surprised if Tony organizers thwart logic once again.
-- David Ng
Photo: James Earl Jones, left, Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines take their bow after a performance of "Driving Miss Daisy" on Broadway. Credit: Jason Kempin / Getty Images