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Theater Review: 'The Trip to Bountiful' -- 3 stars

From left, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson and Cuba

From left, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. in "The Trip to Bountiful" Credit: From left, Vanessa Williams, Cicely Tyson and Cuba Gooding Jr. in "The Trip to Bountiful"

The Trip to Bountiful
3 stars

“The Trip to Bountiful” marks the first play by Horton Foote to be performed on Broadway following the prolific Texan playwright’s death in 2006 at the age of 92.

This touching, proudly sentimental drama, in which the elderly Carrie Watts attempts to journey back to her now deserted hometown in rural Texas despite resistance from both her overprotective adult son Ludie and his obstinate wife Jessie May, began its life as a teleplay in 1953.

Later that same year, it was turned into a stage play and played an unsuccessful run at the same Broadway theater where it is now being revived.

What really brought the piece back to popularity was an Oscar-winning 1985 film version.

Unlike some other famous dramas that have been uncomfortably adapted for African-American casts, Michael Wilson’s tender revival of “The Trip to Bountiful” works extraordinarily well with the Watts family played by African-American actors. The scenic design even reflects 1950s segregation at one point.

Cicely Tyson delivers a fully animated, very spirited performance that makes the audience want to root for her to finally arrive home. The statuesque Vanessa Williams is also an ideal choice for the self-centered Jessie May.

Cuba Gooding Jr., who is making his professional stage debut, stresses Ludie’s boyish persona, but looks ill-at-ease compared with his colleagues.


“The Trip to Bountiful” plays at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre through June 30. 124 W. 43rd St., 212-239-6200, telecharge.com.
 

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