It’s not too late to take a trip to the abundant city of New York and get yourself a seat on the Great White Way for a delightful performance by Ms. Cicely Tyson in Horton Foote’s TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL. Running through June 30th at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, Ms. Tyson received a TONY Award in the Leading Actress category with her performance that reminds us why she’s endeared by legions of admirers who have taken the journey with her during a celebrated career that spans decades.
BOUNTIFUL’s cast includes Academy Award winner CUBA GOODING, JR, Emmy Award nominee and recording star VANESSA WILLIAMS, Tony Award nominee CONDOLA RASHAD, Tony Award nominee TOM WOPAT and is directed by MICHAEL WILSON. Rashad too is nominated for a TONY for her performance in BOUNTIFUL, receiving her first nomination for STICK FLY in 2012.
The story is simple. Mrs. Carrie Watts, a lonely older woman bound to her son (Gooding)
who is under foot his mean-spirited, precious-minded wife (Williams), just wants to return to the small town Texas home of her heyday. It is what Ms. Tyson does with Carrie Watts that tugs at your heart in this sweet sentimental tale.
No stranger to the stage, BOUNTIFUL returns Ms. Tyson to Broadway after a 30-year absence and the homecoming is met night after night by appreciative audiences who oblige in standing ovation. On the night of my review, Oscar nominated Taraji P. Henson sat attentively as we all were caught up in the mesmerizing joy that oozed from Tyson to the rest of us.
I had arrived early and took advantage of the opportunity to engage conversation among ticket holders, some who had come by busloads to the performance. It was a balmy, late spring Manhattan night and following the show, patrons swayed away, some strolling down to 42nd Street, others getting back on the bus having reaped the harvest of Ms. Tyson still wowing crowds under a twilight halo.
More on the cast of TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL–
One of the most celebrated actresses of the last 50 years, CICELY TYSON became both the first African American to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress and one of the only actresses to receive an unprecedented two Emmy Awards for the same role as Jane in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman (1974). She was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in the 1972 feature film Sounder. Ms. Tyson’s first professional stage performance, in the highly acclaimed, long running stage production of Jean Genet’s The Blacks, along with her performance as Mavis in Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, earned her the coveted off-Broadway Vernon Rice Award.
Her last stage appearance was in the Broadway revival of The Corn is Green in 1983. Other Broadway credits include Trumpets of the Lord (1969), A Hand Is On The Gate (1966), Tiger, Tiger Burning Bright (1963), The Cool World (1960), and Jolly’s Progress (1959), in which she understudied Eartha Kitt. She received an additional Emmy Award for “The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All” and was also nominated for her performances in “Roots,” “King” (portraying Coretta Scott King), “Sweet Justice,” “The Marva Collins Story,” “A Lesson Before Dying,” and “Relative Stranger.” Other television credits include “The Road to Galveston.” Her many film credits include The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Fried Green Tomatoes, Because of Winn-Dixie, Hoodlum, Diary of a Mad Black Woman, Madea’s Family Reunion, The Help, which garnered five awards and, most recently, Alex Cross.
Ms. Tyson is among the elite number of entertainers honored with a star on the world famous Hollywood Boulevard Walk of Fame. In 2010 Ms. Tyson became the 95th recipient of the NAACP’s highest honor, the prestigious Spingarn Medal, in addition to being the recipient of a record number of NAACP Image Awards. The Cicely L. Tyson Community School of Performing and Fine Arts in East Orange NJ was opened in 2009 where she generously shares her time and talent.
CUBA GOODING JR is best known for his Oscar winning portrayal of the charmingly arrogant pro football player Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe’s Jerry Maguire. In addition to the Academy Award, he received the Screen Actors Guild Award, the Broadcasters Film Critics Award, the Critics Choice Award and the Chicago Film Critics Award for his performance. In 1991, he received critical acclaim for his portrayal of Tré Styles in John Singleton’s coming-of-age classic Boyz in the Hood, which earned him ShoWest’s Newcomer Award.
He followed this success with roles in numerous critically acclaimed major films, such as Men of Honor, As Good as It Gets, What Dreams May Come, and the Oscar-nominated A Few Good Men, as well as Pearl Harbor, Radio, Murder of Crows (which he also co-produced), American Gangster, Shadowboxer and this year’s George Lucas-helmed Red Tails. He has also appeared in award-winning movies for television including Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story and 2011’s Firelight. Gooding will next be seen in Robert Rodriquez’s sequel to Machete, Machete Kills, and Lee Daniels’ highly anticipated film, The Butler. In 2002, Gooding received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame honoring his extraordinary achievements. A native of the Bronx, he will be making his professional stage debut in The Trip to Bountiful.
This summer, Gooding’s last work, LIFE OF A KING, will be shown during the Los Angeles Film Festival. King is inspired by the true story of an ex-con who takes on the challenge of giving frustrated, disenfranchised youth, living in the shadow of our nation’s capital, hope and life lessons through the game of chess. Gooding, Jr. stars as Eugene Brown, whose 18 year incarceration taught him to “think before you move.” When Eugene takes a group of resident high school detention dwellers and teaches them chess as a meaningful way to pass the time, and in the process teaches them about life and choices, they soon learn there’s more to life than the crime ridden streets that rob children of their youth and their future. In Brown, they find someone who believes they can be more, and is willing to stand by them, helping them to break the cycle and succeed. For the first time, these teens, and many more that come after them, experience a hope that maybe they might rewrite their assumed destiny. LIFE OF A KING by Jake Goldberger starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Richard T. Jones, Paula Jai Parker with Lisa Gay Hamilton and Dennis Haysbert.
VANESSA WILLIAMS has appeared on Broadway in Into the Woods (Tony nomination), Kiss of the Spider-Woman (Theatre World Award), and Sondheim on Sondheim, and Off-Broadway in St. Louis Woman (Encores!). She is well-known for her three-time Emmy nominated performance as Wilhemina Slater in “Ugly Betty,” as well as her roles as Renee Perry in “Desperate Housewives” (NAACP Image Award) and Olivia Duran in “666 Park Avenue.”
Her many film credits include Soul Food, Eraser, Dance With Me, Shaft, and Hannah Montana: The Movie, as well as numerous television movies and miniseries. She can be seen next in Tyler Perry’s Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor which releases March 29th, 2013. As a recording artist, she has been nominated for 11 Grammy awards and her many hits include “Save the Best For Last,” “You Can’t Run,” “The Right Stuff,” “Dreamin’,” “Runnin’ Back to You,” “Save the Best for Last,” “The Comfort Zone,” “The Way That You Love,” ”Love Is,” and Alan Menken/Stephen Schwartz’s Academy Award winning song “Colors of the Wind.” In April 2012, Vanessa and her mother Helen landed on the New York Times Best Seller list with their memoir, You Have No Idea: A Famous Daughter, Her No-Nonsense Mother, and How They Survived Pageants, Hollywood, Love, Loss (and Each Other).
CONDOLA RASHAD received a 2012 Tony Nomination for her performance in Stick Fly, produced by Alicia
Keys and Nelle Nugent and directed by Kenny Leon. Previously, she received rave reviews for her performance in Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize winning play, Ruined, for which she received a Theatre World Award as well as a Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award nomination. Her other theater credits include Tambourines To Glory at the Alliance Theatre, directed by Kenny Leon, and Pearl at the Kennedy Center, directed by Debbie Allen. Rashad’s film and TV credits include 30 Beats opposite Justin Kirk and Lee Pace, Sex and the City 2, Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Smash, Georgetown, and The Good Wife. Most recently she starred opposite Queen Latifah and Alfre Woodard in Lifetime’s Steel Magnolias.
TOM WOPAT has appeared on Broadway in Catch Me if You Can (Drama Desk nomination), Sondheim on Sondheim, A Catered Affair (Tony, Drama Desk, Drama League nominations), Glengarry Glen Ross (Tony and Drama Desk Awards for Best Revival), Chicago, 42nd Street, Annie Get Your Gun (Tony, Drama Desk nominations), Guys and Dolls, City of Angels, and I Love My Wife. His many Off-Broadway credits include Olympus On My Mind, The Guys, Last of the Boys. He has been seen on television in “The Dukes of Hazzard,” “Cybill,” “Home Improvement,” “Taking Chance” (HBO), “A Gifted
Man,” “Longmire.” Film: Django Unchained, Bonneville, Jonah Hex, Main Street. Jazz Standard Albums: I’ve Got Your Number, The Still of The Night, Dissertation on the State of Bliss, Consider It Swung.