Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones in Driving Miss Daisy.

Angela Lansbury first saw Driving Miss Daisy off-Broadway a quarter of a century ago. She has been hoping to perform in it ever since.

Lansbury got her wish for the play's Australian tour, as well as her "dream" co-star in James Earl Jones.

"Personally I came across it off-Broadway . . . at which I met the author (Alfred Uhry) on the very night," she told media on Friday ahead of the Sydney premiere on March 2.

"I never forgot it and (Alfred and I) always kind of looked at each other and said one of these days, perhaps we could get together and do this one together.

"I've been hanging around for 25 years."

Now that it's finally happened, Lansbury said it's a thrilling event for her.

"And to work with James Earl Jones is a dream come true."

Directed by David Esbjornson, Driving Miss Daisy recently played sell-out seasons on Broadway and in the West End. Lansbury joined the cast for a successful run in Brisbane and the tour was extended to include shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth in the coming months.

Uhry's play originally ran off-Broadway from 1987-1990, but hit the big time when it was made into an Academy Award-winning film in 1989 by Australian Bruce Beresford, starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy.

It was how Jones first came across the story, about an unlikely friendship that blossoms between a Southern matriarch and her chauffeur.

"I saw Morgan Freeman do it and I thought, I knew that man, and naturally being an actor I wanted to play that man," Jones said.

"I'm also from Mississippi, the uncivilised part of the world, as Morgan was."

Jones has one of the most recognisable voices in the world, having played Mufasa in The Lion King and Darth Vader in Star Wars, but the modest actor couldn't praise Freeman enough.

"We talk about voices - Morgan has the voice really," he said.

"Other actors struggle for that clarity."

So how does Jones keep his voice in ship-shape?

"I clear my throat. A lot."


  • Driving Miss Daisy will play in Sydney throughout March, Melbourne for five weeks from April 5 and Adelaide for two weeks from May 17. Tickets for Perth are on waitlist.

The West Australian

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