Uhry in 2013
|Born||Alfred Fox Uhry|
December 3, 1936
Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Alfred Fox Uhry (born December 3, 1936) is an American playwright and screenwriter. He has received an Academy Award, two Tony Awards and the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for dramatic writing for Driving Miss Daisy. He is a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
Uhry was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Alene (Fox), a social worker, and Ralph K. Uhry, a furniture designer and artist. He was born into a German Jewish family with one sister, the author Ann Uhry Abrams. Uhry graduated from Druid Hills High School in 1954 and subsequently graduated from Brown University where he wrote two original musicals with Brownbrokers. Druid Hills High School's Uhry Theater is named in honor of Uhry. During his first years in New York City, learning the craft of lyric-writing, Uhry received a stipend from Frank Loesser; after his eventual success, Uhry often praised Loesser's generosity and encouragement.
Uhry's early work for the stage was as a lyricist and librettist for a number of commercially unsuccessful musicals, including a revival of Little Johnny Jones starring Donny Osmond (1982) which ran for one performance on Broadway.
His first collaboration with Robert Waldman was the 1968 musical Here's Where I Belong, which closed after one performance (and 20 previews) on Broadway. They had considerably better success with The Robber Bridegroom, which premiered on Broadway in both 1975 and 1976, had a year-long national tour, and garnered Uhry his first Tony Award nomination, for best book of a musical in 1976.
America's Sweetheart, with music by Robert Waldman and with the book co-written by Uhry with John Weidman, ran at the Hartford Stage, Hartford, Connecticut in March 1985 to April 1985, and then at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, Miami, Florida, where it closed.
The Robber Bridegroom was revived Off-Broadway in March 2016 at the Roundabout Theatre Company and directed by Alex Timbers. This production won three Lucille Lortel Awards including Outstanding Revival.
Driving Miss Daisy (1987) is the first in what is known as his "Atlanta Trilogy" of plays, all set during the first half of the 20th century. Produced Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons, the play earned him the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It deals with the relationship between an elderly Jewish woman and her black chauffeur. He adapted it into the screenplay for a 1989 film starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, an adaptation which was awarded the Academy Award for Writing Adapted Screenplay, in addition to the Academy Award for Tandy as best actress.
The second of the trilogy, The Last Night of Ballyhoo (1996), is set in 1939 during the premiere of the film Gone with the Wind. It deals with a Jewish family during an important social event. It was commissioned for the Cultural Olympiad in Atlanta which coincided with the 1996 Summer Olympics, and received the Tony Award for Best Play when produced on Broadway in 1997.
The third is the 1998 musical Parade, about the 1913 trial of Jewish factory manager Leo Frank. The libretto earned him a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. The music was written by Jason Robert Brown.
Uhry's play Edgardo Mine is based on the true story of Edgardo Mortara, an Italian child taken by police from his Jewish family in 1858 because one of their domestic servants had baptized him. The play, directed by Doug Hughes, opened at Hartford Stage, Hartford, Connecticut in November 2002.
The Manhattan Theatre Club produced Uhry's musical LoveMusik on Broadway in 2007. The story depicts the relationship between composer Kurt Weill and his wife, Lotte Lenya, using Weill's music.
Angel Reapers, a collaboration with director/choreographer Martha Clarke, ran Off-Broadway at the Signature Theatre from February 2 to March 20, 2016. This production won the Lucille Lortel Award for "Outstanding Alternative Theatrical Experience".
His next screenplay is for a film announced in 2009, From Swastika to Jim Crow, a dramatization of a documentary about Jewish professors who flee Nazi Germany, find posts in the Southern US, and identify with their African-American students and their struggle under Jim Crow.