The Trip to Bountiful (play)

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

The Trip to Bountiful is a play by Horton Foote. The play premiered March 1, 1953 on NBC-TV, before being produced on the Broadway stage. Its 1954 staging earned Jo Van Fleet a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play at the 8th Tony Awards. The role of Carrie Watts won Geraldine Page the Academy Award for Best Actress for the film adaptation and Cicely Tyson the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play at the 67th Tony Awards for the 2013 Broadway production, which earned a total of 4 Tony Award nominations.

Productions[edit]

The play premiered on NBC television on March 1, 1953. 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, opening in April 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.[1] 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.[2] The 2013 production marked Cicely Tyson's first Broadway appearance since 1983.[3] She was joined by Cuba Gooding Jr, Condola Rashād and Vanessa Williams.[4] The African-American cast is a non-issue because the themes are blind to race.[5]

Production history[edit]

Theatre Opening Date Closing Date Perfs. Details
Henry Miller's Theatre, Broadway November 3, 1953 December 5, 1953 39[6] Broadway premiere
Peter Norton Space, New York December 4, 2005 March 11, 2006 ??[7] Off-Broadway revival
Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Broadway April 23, 2013 October 9, 2013 ??[2] Broadway revival

Historical casting[edit]

The following table show the casts of the principal original productions:

Role NBC
1953[8]
Miller's
1953[6]
Norton
2005[7]
Sondheim
2013[2]
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

Plot summary[edit]

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."[9] 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.[9]

Critical commentary[edit]

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."[9] 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."[9] 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."[9]

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.[7] 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".[5] 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[edit]

Original 1953 Broadway production[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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 Pending[18]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Cassidy, Claudia (1954-04-21). "On the Aisle: Miss Gish's 'Trip fo Bountiful' Soap Opera Tear Jerker". Chicago Tribune. p. b3. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  2. ^ a b c "Trip to Bountiful Extends Broadway Run Through Summer". Playbill.com. May 8, 2013. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  3. ^ Piepenburg, Erik (2012-12-03). "Cicely Tyson to Star in ‘Trip to Bountiful’ on Broadway". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  4. ^ McGrath, Charles (2012-12-20). "Gooding, Williams, Rashad Join ‘Trip to Bountiful’ Cast". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  5. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (2013-04-23). "Home Is Where the Years Disappear: ‘The Trip to Bountiful,’ at the Stephen Sondheim Theater". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-11. 
  6. ^ a b "The Trip to Bountiful (1953)". IBDB.com. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  7. ^ a b c "The Trip to Bountiful (2005)". Lortel Archive. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  8. ^ "The Trip to Bountiful (TV 1953)". IMDb.com. Retrieved 2013-05-05. 
  9. ^ a b c d e Atkinson, Brooks (1953-11-04). "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 2013-05-08. 
  10. ^ a b Brantley, Ben (2005-12-05). "There's No Place Like an Imaginary Home". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  11. ^ Murphy, Kate (2013-04-12). "Back Home in Texas, for the First Time". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-05-10. 
  12. ^ Teachout, Terry (2013-05-09). "Theatergoers: Can I Get an Amen?". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  13. ^ "The Trip to Bountiful". Playbill. Retrieved 2013-09-17. 
  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). Is Big Winner of 2012-13 Outer Critics Circle Awards "Pippin Is Big Winner of 2012-13 Outer Critics Circle Awards". Playbill. Retrieved May 13, 2013. 
  16. ^ a b c d Hetrick, Adam (2013-05-19). "Billy Porter, Andrea Martin, Pippin, Matilda, Vanya and Sonia Win Drama Desk Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 2013-05-20. 
  17. ^ a b c d e Purcell, Carey (2013-06-09). "Kinky Boots, Vanya and Sonia, Pippin and Virginia Woolf? Are Big Winners at 67th Annual Tony Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 2103-06-10. 
  18. ^ a b Purcell, Carey (2013-08-19). "The Assembled Parties, Kinky Boots, Glengarry Glen Ross and More Nominated for Artios Awards". Playbill. Retrieved 2103-11-07. 

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