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'Driving Miss Daisy' rides again

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones

Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones Photo Credit: Handout

Driving Miss Daisy

2.5 stars

While Alfred Uhry’s three-character drama “Driving Miss Daisy” remains unbearably sentimental and somewhat inferior to its more fully realized 1989 film version, the union of three great actors such as James Earl Jones, Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines is definitely a cause for celebration.

The 90-minute play, which is only now making its Broadway debut, observes the unorthodox relationship between Daisy Werthan, a 72-year-old southern widow, and Hoke Coleburn, her similarly old black chauffeur, during a 25-year period.

After Daisy wrecks her new car by accidentally driving in reverse, her son Boolie hires Hoke to drive her around town. They eventually form a strong friendship in spite of Daisy’s initial mistrust of Hoke and their deep cultural differences.

At times, Hoke is forced to confront Daisy about her inability to see him as a grown man and not as a servant or child. By the end, Daisy slips into senility and must be wheeled away to a nursing home.

The film version allowed Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy to believably age through the extensive use of makeup. Redgrave and Jones, on the other hand, solely emphasize changes in their body movements.

While Redgrave barely comes across as a southern Jewish woman, she convincingly stresses Daisy’s restless spirit. Jones, on the other hand, provides a congenial counterpart with an undercurrent of pain. Gaines, as Daisy’s son, is credibly worn-out and frustrated by his mother’s relentless demands.

If you go: “Driving Miss Daisy” plays an open run at the Golden Theatre. 252 W. 45th St., 212-239-6200, daisyonbroadway.com.

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