When the award-winning actress Cicely Tyson first saw the 1985 film version of Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful" starring Geraldine Page, she called her agent and told him to get her her own "trip to Bountiful." She wanted just one more dream role before she retired from acting. Little did Tyson know that 27 years later, when she was in her late 80s, Horton Foote's daughter would ask her to star in the Broadway revival.
Tyson won a Tony Award last year for her portrayal of protagonist Carrie Watts. Carrie is an elderly widow with a heart condition who's on a mission to see her childhood town of Bountiful one more time before she dies. She lives in Houston with her son Ludie, who's battling depression, and his feisty wife Jessie Mae, who has grown increasing impatient at her mother-in-law's residence in their two-room apartment, and at her many attempts to escape to Bountiful using the government check she receives each month.
Carrie finally succeeds, and the play follows her to Bountiful and back, uncovering the significance of "home" and what we lose when we leave it. Cicely Tyson has transported the story from the Broadway stage to a Lifetime movie version made earlier this year. And now "The Trip to Bountiful" is back onstage and in Boston through ArtsEmerson, with Blair Underwood in the role of Ludie and Vanessa Williams as Jessie Mae.
We recently sat down with Williams and Underwood to talk about what "Bountiful" means to their characters and about working with the brilliant Cicely Tyson.
ArtsEmerson's The Trip to Bountiful is onstage at the Cutler Majestic Theatre through December 7th.
This segment aired on November 26, 2014.