The Dallas Contemporary Theatre’s contribution to the Horton Foote Festival pays tribute to one of Foote’s the best-known plays: The Trip to Bountiful. Mastering this iconic play with sensitivity and honesty, director René Moreno captures the human spirit, beauty and subtleties in Foote’s work. Elly Lindsay playing lead character Carrie Watts is suburb and delivers a powerful performance.
Originally a church built in 1925, The Contemporary Theatre of Dallas’s venue offers intimacy and the perfect setting for Foote’s play. The play opens with music from the 1950s and a Marla Jo Kelly singing “Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling.” The action begins with Carrie Watts planning to escape the small apartment in Houston where she lives with her son and narcissistic daughter-in-law. Twenty years after her move Carrie dreams of going back home to Bountiful, Texas. Understated without overly dramatizing, Moreno’s magnificent direction gives a convincing portrayal of genuine small town Texans in 1952. The performances are realistic rather than stereotypical depictions of the Texas Mystique.
Everything about this play works from the excellent cast, set, lighting, costumes along with the hymns and music that create the mood. Elly Lindsay’s Carrie Watts is an unhappy, headstrong older woman fighting for some dignity, independence and meaning in her life. There is a particular poignancy in longing for a place in time that cannot be repeated. Lindsay’s acting is spot-on and deeply moving.
Tom Lenaghen is exceptionally good as Carrie Watts’s adult son, Ludie. With troubles of his own Ludie has the unenviable position trying to make peace with his mother and demanding wife Jessie Mae Watts (Sue Loncar.) His stoic and natural performance is perfect. Sue Loncar, also the CTD Producing Artistic Director, is a first-class Jessie Mae. She occasionally displays a heart and prevents her character from becoming cartoonish. She has a wonderful comic sense of timing along with the right amount of selfish tension and conflict with Elly Lindsay’s protagonist character Carrie. The wonderfully talented cast keeps the play flowing and even. Marla Jo Kelly (Thelma), Don Long (Sheriff) along with David Lambert’s great Texas twang (Ticket man Roy), add believability and warmth to the production.
The Trip to Bountiful is part of the The Horton Foote Festival bringing Dallas-Fort Worth masterpieces and lesser-known, but powerful works of late Texan writer Horton Foote. This festival introduces younger audiences to Foote’s Academy-Award and Pulitzer Prize winning work. Originally The Trip to Bountiful was a teleplay and was later produced as a movie in 1985. Geraldine Page won the Academy Award for Best Actress and Foote was nominated for Best Writing for his adapted screenplay.
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Horton Foote Festival Celebrates the legacy of one of America’s top playwrights
The Contemporary Theatre of Dallas’s extended production of The Trip to Bountiful runs through May 8, 2011.
The Contemporary Theatre of Dallas
5601 Sears Street
Dallas, TX 75206
The Horton Foote Festival