The Trip to Bountiful Gets Final Extension; Transfer Not Likely

News   The Trip to Bountiful Gets Final Extension; Transfer Not Likely There's nothing like the journey of a lifetime to inspire audiences to flock to the theatre. The recent crowds at Off-Broadway's The Trip to Bountiful have prompted Signature Theatre Company to extend its production of the Horton Foote play for a second time, to March 11.

Lois Smith plays Carrie Watts, the aging Texas mama who wants to make the trip to her old home town, to escape her stifling life in Houston. Sneaking away from her son and daughter-in-law and snagging a bus to the past, Carrie tells the story of her life to those she encounters.

Critics have been embracing the production, directed by Harris Yulin, and falling in love all over again with Smith, the two-time Tony Award nominee.

Observers have suggested if this intimate production found itself on Broadway, Smith would be a shoo-in for a Tony nomination. However, artistic producer James Houghton told the New York Times Jan. 25 that the show would not transfer to Broadway, owing to a lack of free houses.

"They're booked," he said. "And it's so frustrating because I think what we've got is a major crowning achievement in Lois Smith's performance."

He added that a transfer to a commerical Off-Broadway house would be too costly, and attract too little attention to pay off. This latest extension is billed as the final three weeks of the production, at Signature's Peter Norton Space on West 42nd Street.

Smith's colleagues in the production includes Hallie Foote as Jessie Mae Watts and Devon Abner as son Ludie, Meghan Andrews, Jim DeMarse, Gene Jones, Sam Kitchin and Frank Girardeau.

Next up from Signature is John Guare's Landscape of the Body. The Trip to Bountiful began previews Nov. 15, 2005, and was originally scheduled to run through Jan. 8. Its Signature run will have outlasted its original 1953 Broadway run by several months.

"In The Trip to Bountiful," Signature announced, "Carrie Watts longs to return to her childhood home of Bountiful, Texas, where she hasn't been in 30 years. Despite her failing health, she grows more determined to escape from the tiny Houston apartment she shares with her soft-spoken son and watchful daughter-in-law. Finally she gets her chance to head homeward, and it is the journey of a lifetime."

For more information, visit www.signaturetheatre.org.

From Left: Meghan Andrews and Lois Smith in <i>The Trip to Bountiful</i>.
From Left: Meghan Andrews and Lois Smith in The Trip to Bountiful. Photo by Carol Rosegg