The Trip to Bountiful (play)

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The Trip to Bountiful
Written by Horton Foote
Date premiered 1953
Subject Family
Genre Drama
Setting Houston and Bountiful, TX

The Trip to Bountiful is a play by American playwright Horton Foote. The play premiered March 1, 1953 on NBC-TV, before being produced on the Broadway stage November 3 – December 5, 1953.

The play involves a "woman who has to live with a daughter-in-law who hates her and a son who does not dare take her side."[1] While the unhappy family lives in a Houston apartment, Carrie Watts dreams of returning to Bountiful, where she was raised. She eventually runs away and embarks by bus to her destination. She meets several people along the way and upon her arrival, she is whisked back to Houston by her son and daughter-in-law.[1]

The play was adapted into a film of the same name, released in 1985. The film stars Geraldine Page, Carlin Glynn, and Rebecca DeMornay.

Production history

The play premiered on NBC television on March 1, 1953, starring Lillian Gish. It subsequently premiered on Broadway at Henry Miller's Theatre in November 1953 for a run of 39 performances. The play was produced Off-Broadway by the Signature Theatre Company at the Peter Norton Space in 2005. It was revived on Broadway at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, (which stands where Henry Miller's Theatre stood) April 23 – October 9, 2013.

Vincent J. Donehue was the director of the NBC version, summer theatre preview versions, the 1953 Broadway version and the subsequent United States tour.[2] The 2005 Off-Broadway production was directed by Harris Yulin. The 2013 Broadway revival was directed by Michael Wilson, with scenic design by Jeff Cowie, costumes by Van Broughton Ramsey lighting by Rui Rita, and original music and sound design by John Gromada.[3] The 2013 production marked Cicely Tyson's first Broadway appearance since 1983.[4] She was joined by Cuba Gooding Jr, Condola Rashād and Vanessa Williams.[5] The African-American cast is a non-issue because the themes are blind to race.[6]

Theatre Opening Date Closing Date Perfs. Details
Henry Miller's Theatre, Broadway November 3, 1953 December 5, 1953 39[7] Broadway premiere
Peter Norton Space, New York December 4, 2005 March 11, 2006 128[8] Off-Broadway revival
Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Broadway April 23, 2013 October 9, 2013 187 (+27 previews)[3] Broadway revival

Historical casting

Role NBC Telecast
1953[9]
Original Broadway
1953[7]
Peter Norton revival
2005[8]
Broadway revival
2013[3]
Carrie Watts Lillian Gish Lois Smith Cicely Tyson
Ludie Watts John Beal Gene Lyons Devon Abner Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Thelma Eva Marie Saint Meghan Andrews Condola Rashād
Jessie Mae Watts Eileen Heckart Jo Van Fleet Hallie Foote Vanessa Williams
Sheriff Frank Overton James DeMarse Tom Wopat
Houston Ticket Man Will Hare Gene Jones Devon Abner
Second Houston Ticket Man William Hansen David Clive Sam Kitchin Curtis Billings
Harrison Ticket Man Dennis Cross Frederic Downs Frank Girardeau
Roy Arthur French
Attendant Larry Bolton
Travelers Helen Cordes
Neil Laurence
Salem Ludwig
Patricia MacDonald
Ensemble Pat Bowie
Leon Addison Brown
Susan Heyward
Linda Powell
Charles Turner
Others Frederic Downs
Gene Lyons
Jo Van Fleet

Critical commentary

When the play debuted on Broadway in 1953, Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times of Lillian Gish's performance in the role of Carrie Watts "As a weary old woman, homesick for her youth in the country, she gives an inspired performance that is alive in every detail and conveys unconquerable spirit."[1] Of the production, Atkinson wrote "...the performance is so pitilessly exact that you can hardly tell where the writing leaves off and the acting begins."[1] Atkinson describes Jo Van Fleet's role as Jessie Mae Watts, which earned the Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play at the 8th Tony Awards as a "penetrating performance."[1]

Lois Smith won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play, Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Play, Obie Award Outstanding Performance and Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Lead Actress, for her 2005 Off-Broadway leading performance as Carrie Watts.[8] Smith was lauded in The New York Times by Ben Brantley with comments such as " I had never before realized how blue and bottomless her gaze is" and she "brings pure, revivifying oxygen to the role" for which Geraldine Page won Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1985 film version.[10] Although a revival, Brantley noted "What this production provides that makes 'The Trip to Bountiful' seem newborn is its artful counterpoint of the smothering, claustrophobic details of daily life and Carrie's barrier-melting faith in her destiny."[10]

In order to prepare for her role in the 2013 Broadway revival, Tyson visited playwright Horton Foote's home in rural Wharton, Texas.[11] After viewing a matinee, Ben Brantley panned the production calling it a "generally sluggish production" that "only fitfully captures the rhythms of everyday melancholy that you associate with Foote" and noted several other reservations such as "This production allows too much dead air between lines...The show lacks the deceptively easy conversational flow" its director has previously demonstrated. He also notes that the show "often undercuts itself by broadening comic moments".[6] Regarding Ms. Tyson's character singing hymns to herself during the production, Terry Teachout commented that during numerous performances, "a fair number of people in the theater sang along with her. It didn't look to me as though she was trying to encourage them, either: They just joined in..." and that a friend told him, "Three women sitting next to me started singing along, softly at first, and by the second hymn a good part of the audience was joyously singing with them. The theater was everyone's church that night, not just mine. To describe it sounds hokey, but it was anything but."[12]

Awards and nominations

Original 1953 Broadway production

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1954 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Jo Van Fleet Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Special Award Eva Marie Saint Won[13]
Theatre World Award Eva Marie Saint Won

2005 Off-Broadway revival

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2006 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Play Nominated
Outstanding Actress in a Play Lois Smith Won
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play Devon Abner Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design John McKernon Nominated
Lifetime Achievement Horton Foote Won
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Lois Smith Won
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Hallie Foote Nominated
Outstanding Revival of a Play Nominated
Obie Award Distinguished Performance by an Actress Lois Smith Won
Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Revival Won
Outstanding Director Harris Yulin Won
Outstanding Lead Actress Lois Smith Won
Outstanding Featured Actress Hallie Foote Won
Meghan Andrews Nominated
Outstanding Costume Design Martin Pakledinaz Nominated
Outstanding Lighting Design John McKernon Nominated

2013 Broadway revival The Broadway production was recognized with Drama League Award nominations for Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play and with Distinguished Performance Award nominations for both Cicely Tyson and Vanessa L. Williams.[14] The production received four Outer Critics Circle Award nominations: Outstanding Revival of a Play (Broadway or Off-Broadway), Outstanding Director of a Play (Michael Wilson), Outstanding Actress in a Play (Cicely Tyson) and Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play (Vanessa L. Williams), with Tyson winning.[15] The play earned three 58th Drama Desk Award nominations, with Tyson winning for Outstanding Actress in a Play.[16] The play received four Tony Award nominations for the 67th Tony Awards, winning Best Actress in a Play.[17] The show received an Artios Award nomination from The Casting Society of America for Outstanding Achievement in Casting, New York Broadway Theatre – Drama.[18]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2013 Drama League Award Outstanding Revival of a Broadway or Off-Broadway Play Nominated[14]
Distinguished Performance Award Cicely Tyson Nominated[14]
Vanessa L. Williams Nominated[14]
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Revival of a Play (Broadway or Off-Broadway) Nominated[15]
Outstanding Director of a Play Michael Wilson Nominated[15]
Outstanding Actress in a Play Cicely Tyson Won[15]
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Vanessa L. Williams Nominated[15]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Revival of a Play Nominated[16]
Outstanding Actress in a Play Cicely Tyson Won[16]
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play Vanessa L. Williams Nominated[16]
Tony Award
(67th)
Best Revival of a Play Nominated[17]
Best Actress in a Play Cicely Tyson Won[17]
Best Featured Actress in a Play Condola Rashād Nominated[17]
Best Sound Design John Gromada Nominated[17]
Artios Award Outstanding Achievement in Casting
New York Broadway Theatre – Drama
David Caparelliotis Nominated[18]

2014 television film

A made-for-television remake premiered on March 8, 2014 on the Lifetime network. The film featured Cicely Tyson in the lead role as Mrs. Carrie Watts, Vanessa Williams as Jessie Mae, Blair Underwood as Ludie and Keke Palmer as Thelma. Tyson and Williams also appeared in the Broadway revival prior to this. Keke Palmer replaced Condola Rashad in the role of Thelma from the Broadway cast.[19]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Atkinson, Brooks (November 4, 1953). "First Night at the Theatre: Lillian Gish Gives a Notable performance in Foote's 'The Trip to Bountiful'". The New York Times. p. 30. Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  2. ^ Cassidy, Claudia (April 21, 1954). "On the Aisle: Miss Gish's 'Trip fo Bountiful' Soap Opera Tear Jerker". Chicago Tribune. p. b3. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Trip to Bountiful Extends Broadway Run Through Summer". Playbill.com. May 8, 2013. Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  4. ^ Piepenburg, Erik (December 3, 2012). "Cicely Tyson to Star in 'Trip to Bountiful' on Broadway". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ McGrath, Charles (December 20, 2012). "Gooding, Williams, Rashad Join 'Trip to Bountiful' Cast". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (April 23, 2013). "Home Is Where the Years Disappear: 'The Trip to Bountiful,' at the Stephen Sondheim Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "The Trip to Bountiful (1953)". IBDB.com. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c "The Trip to Bountiful (2005)". Lortel Archive. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  9. ^ "The Trip to Bountiful (TV 1953)". IMDb.com. Retrieved May 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (December 5, 2005). "There's No Place Like an Imaginary Home". The New York Times. Retrieved May 8, 2013. 
  11. ^ Murphy, Kate (April 12, 2013). "Back Home in Texas, for the First Time". The New York Times. Retrieved May 10, 2013. 
  12. ^ Teachout, Terry (May 9, 2013). "Theatergoers: Can I Get an Amen?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  13. ^ "The Trip to Bountiful". Playbill. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 
  14. ^ a b c d Gans, Andrew (May 17, 2013). "'Kinky Boots', 'Pippin', 'Vanya and Sonia', 'Virginia 'Woolf? and More Win Drama League Awards". Playbill. Retrieved May 17, 2013. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Gans, Andrew (May 13, 2013). "Pippin Is Big Winner of 2012-13 Outer Critics Circle Awards". Playbill. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d Hetrick, Adam (May 19, 2013). "Billy Porter, Andrea Martin, Pippin, Matilda, Vanya and Sonia Win Drama Desk Awards". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 5, 2013. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Purcell, Carey (June 9, 2013). "Kinky Boots, Vanya and Sonia, Pippin and Virginia Woolf? Are Big Winners at 67th Annual Tony Awards". Playbill. Archived from the original on June 11, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 
  18. ^ a b Purcell, Carey (August 19, 2013). "The Assembled Parties, Kinky Boots, Glengarry Glen Ross and More Nominated for Artios Awards". Playbill. Retrieved November 7, 2013. 
  19. ^ Lifetimes from Broadway accessed 1/23/2014

External links

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