Classic drama debuts

Horton Foote captures small town life with a loving palette in The Trip to Bountiful 

Sometimes, you have to run away from home to find it again.

In Horton Foote’s classic drama, The Trip To Bountiful, Carrie Watts dreams of getting back home, not just to Bountiful, but to a place in her heart that seems so far away.

The play makes its overdue Capital Repertory Theatre debut April 22–May 15, in a gospel-tinged production helmed by Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, who describes the show as “one woman’s journey on the only bus she can take.”

Watts—old, tired and prone to sinking spells—is trapped in a two-room Houston apartment. It’s hot, it’s humid and her daughter-in-law eats up her pension checks with ice cold Coca-Colas and visits to the beauty parlor. The latter might not be so bad if she didn’t treat Carrie so poorly. And Carrie’s son Ludie, well, he just doesn’t have the nerve to stand up to his wife, now does he.

“It tugs at your heart,” Mancinelli-Cahill says. “A lot of people can relate to this show. It’s about what happens when who you are doesn’t really matter anymore.”

Foote, the screenwriter of eternal films like To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies, had an ear for true human speech and the lilting rhythms of the American south.

“He captures,” Mancinelli-Cahill says, “small town life with a loving palette.”

Bountiful actually premiered as an NBC teleplay in 1953, with the legendary Lillian Gish (who took the role to Broadway) creating the iconic Carrie Watts, a smart senior battling against the callow aggression of her keepers. Since then, it has remained a choice vehicle for important actresses like Geraldine Page (who won a Best Actress Oscar® for the 1985 film adaptation), Lois Smith (who won a Drama Desk Award for the 2005 off-Broadway revival) and Cicely Tyson (who scored a Tony® for the role in the 2013 Broadway remount).

Barbara N. Howard plays Watts, whose (almost!) every escape to her longed-for Bountiful, Texas hometown is thwarted by Jessie Mae. Howard, who received accolades for playing the title role in Schenectady Light Opera Company’s 2014 production of Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori’s Caroline, Or Change, makes her professional debut in Bountiful, also gaining her Actors Equity card. Previously, Howard, who owns the hymn “Blessed Assurance” in the show, participated in the young playwrights segment of the theatre’s NEXT ACT! New Play Summit.

Albany-bred Kevin Craig West, who starred in To Kill A Mockingbird, Race, Take Me Out and Metamorphoses for theREP, returns from his Los Angeles film career to portray Ludie.

Sadrina Renee, who boasts a strong resumé in New York and on the road, plays distasteful daughter-in-law Jessie Mae, who won’t let Carrie sing her spirituals in the house. The theatre actually negotiated a leave of absence for Renee, who is a professional actor currently navigating the business world, to take the part.

“She’s a crackerjack and just made for this role,” says Mancinelli-Cahill.

Danyel Fulton, Josh Powell, Sheilah London and Tony Pallone complete the cast, with Pallone also receiving his Equity card as part of theREP’s ongoing theatrical workforce development.

The production team for The Trip To Bountiful includes Scenic Designer Jared Rutherford (Souvenir, assistant on This Wonderful Life and The Single Girls Guide); Costume Designer Barbara A. Bell (The Seafarer, Boston Marriage, Driving Miss Daisy, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, Dracula, Our Town and others); Lighting Designer Travis McHale (How Water Behaves); Sound Designer Janie Bullard; and Musical Director Josh Smith (A Christmas Story, The Musical and The Secret Garden).

Preview performances for The Trip to Bountiful take place April 22-24. Opening night is Tuesday, April 26. Regular performances continue through Sunday, May 15. Performance times: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday—with matinees 3 p.m. Saturday; 2 p.m. Sunday; and 2 p.m. Wednesday, May 4. Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 N. Pearl Street, Albany. Tickets range from $20 to $55. Students with valid ID: $16 all shows. For tickets and information, call Tickets By Proctors, (518) 445-SHOW (7469) or visit capitalrep.org.

Opening night includes live music with members of the gospel ensemble of Macedonia Baptist Church in the café at 6:30 p.m., and complimentary post-show champagne and dessert. The Chef’s Table performance, on Tuesday, May 3, includes live pre-show music and complimentary hors d’oeuvres, from Yono’s/dp An American Brasserie, for ticketholders, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the lobby.

Discussion nights for The Trip to Bountiful, featuring cast members fielding questions from the audience, will take place following the Wednesday evening performances on May 4 & 11.

The Sunday, May 15 matinee will be preceded by a Behind-the-Scenes event, which features complimentary light breakfast fare, from Cider Belly Doughnuts, for ticketholders, and discussion led by theREP’s Producing Artistic Director Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill. Food service begins at 12:30 p.m., with the presentation following from 1-1:30 p.m.

The Trip to Bountiful at Capital Repertory Theatre is sponsored by E. Stewart Jones Hacker Murphy, LLP and Bullard, McLeod and Associates, Inc.