The only heaviness at a light-hearted Monday night gala for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center was the hefty Monte Cristo award itself. “If I walk a mile with this every day, I’ll be in shape for my next job,” James Earl Jones said.
The dinner at Bridgewaters-South Street Seaport saw Jones saluted by his “Driving Miss Daisy” co-stars Vanessa Redgrave and Boyd Gaines, serenaded by Leslie Uggams and entertained by actors reading excerpts from plays that held special significance for him — like “Fences” and “The Great White Hope.”
Guests disagreed on whether or not Darth Vader was his most famous role. Michael Douglas said no, Harold Prince said yes.
“I don’t think of him as Darth Vader, not for a second,” said Redgrave. “Although his dressing room is full of Darth Vader helmets which the mothers who come to see ‘Driving Miss Daisy’ bring with urgent requests from their kids, and he signs every single one.”
Following a run of “Daisy” in London, Jones stars in a Broadway revival of “The Best Man,” in which he revealed he will perform alongside “Angela Lansbury as the Washington, D.C., grande dame.”