Having seen “The Trip to Bountiful” on Broadway a few years ago, Barbara Howard immediately saw herself in the role of Carrie Watts.
“I enjoy doing roles that people can identify with,” said Howard, an Albany resident who will be in the Capital Repertory Theatre production of Horton Foote’s classic story beginning Friday and running through May 15. “I like doing characters that people can see a little bit of themselves in.”
‘The Trip to Bountiful’
WHERE: Capital Repertory Theatre, 111 North Pearl St., Albany
WHEN: Previews Friday through Sunday; opens Tuesday and runs through May 15; show times vary
HOW MUCH: $55-$16
MORE INFO: 445-7469, www.capitalrep.org
A sixth grade teacher at Arbor Hill Elementary School, Howard was thrilled with Cicely Tyson’s Tony Award-winning performance as Watts in 2013. Foote’s work was originally a teleplay from 1953 starring the legendary Lillian Gish before it moved to the stage. Geraldine Page won an Oscar for her portrayal of Carrie in the 1985 film version.
“I saw the movie but I only faintly remember it because it was such a long time ago,” said Howard. “The stage version was amazing, and I love Cicely Tyson anyway. Her character is wonderful because you can see her weaknesses and her triumphs. People can look at parts of that character and say, ‘oh, that’s me.’ ”
“The Trip to Bountiful” is set in the 1940s in Houston, and centers around Carrie Watts, an elderly woman who wants to visit Bountiful, her childhood hometown. While both her overprotective son and his bossy wife discourage the trip, Carrie forges ahead, deciding to go by bus on her own. On the way, she meets Thelma, a young single woman, and the two develop a close bond as Carrie shares memories with Thelma during the long bus ride.
The Capital Rep production is being directed by Maggie Mancinelli-Cahill, and also stars Kevin Craig West as Ludie, Sadrina Renee as Jessie Mae and Sheilah London as Thelma.
“It tugs at your heart,” said Mancinelli-Cahill, also Capital Rep’s producing artistic director. “A lot of people can relate to this show. It’s about what happens when who you are doesn’t really matter anymore.”
The show is Howard’s first at Capital Rep and is helping her qualify for her Actor’s Equity Card. She won a Theatre Association of New York Award for her 2013 performance in “Raisin in the Sun” for Our Own Productions, and she also drew rave reviews for her work in “Caroline, Or Change” for the Schenectady Civic Players last year.
“Working at Capital Rep is certainly a challenge, but it’s a challenge I’m really enjoying,” said Howard. “All the people I’ve met there are so helpful. It’s a real family, and you know that everyone over there is so dedicated to each craft that they’re involved in. It’s so rewarding to be able to be a part of such a beautiful atmosphere.”
Foote, who died in 2009 just shy of his 93rd birthday, is often referred to as the “American Chekhov.” He won his first Oscar in 1962 for his screen adaptation of Harper Lee’s novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which starred Gregory Peck, and then “Tender Mercies” with Robert Duvall in 1983 earned him his second Oscar, this one for original screenplay. In 1995 he won a Pulitzer for his play, “The Young Man from Atlanta.” While he’s had nine plays produced on Broadway, he’s only had one Tony Award nomination (for “The Young Man from Atlanta”). Most of his plays are better suited for small, intimate venues, and many of his works continue to be a staple for off-Broadway and regional theaters around the country.
“He captures small-town life with a loving palette,” Mancinelli-Cahill said of Foote.
Reach Gazette reporter Bill Buell at 395-3190 or [email protected]