By Harry Haun
30 Mar 2013
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN
"I wanted to know what it was about Bountiful that made this woman long to return to it, so I said — and I usually do this anyway when I research roles — 'I'll go to the area.' I need to taste, smell, feel, hear what's there. It was incredible. I understood, although there was a great change in what it had been to what she returned to. I knew what it was she wanted once I set foot on that earth and was enveloped by it."
Producer Nelle Nugent has signed on some all-star co-stars to accompany Tyson to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre when the show opens there April 23.
Carrie's son will be played by Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and her daughter-in-law by Tony nominee Vanessa Williams. Prominent in support are a pair of Tony contenders: Tom Wopat as the sheriff sent to retrieve her and Condola Rashad as a soldier's wife she meets during her trip.
Tyson herself is an Oscar nominee — for "Sounder" (1972) — and a three-time Emmy winner. "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman," in which she magnificently portrayed the 110-year-old title character, won her two Emmys in 1974 (it's hard to explain how she got the pair, but, if you saw that performance, you might be thinking, "Only two?"); the third came 20 years later with "The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All," in which she played a house slave — a relative spring chicken of 60 or 70, alongside Anne Bancroft's 100-year-old widow.
Will Carrie Watts earn Tyson a Tony to carry home? The Tony is about the only award that this role hasn't won for an actress. Geraldine Page got the Oscar and the Independent Spirit Award for it. The 2005 Off-Broadway revival won the wonderful Lois Smith every award she was eligible for: the Obie, the Lortel, the Jefferson, the Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Drama Desk Award.
Only time will tell if Tyson's trip back to Broadway will be equally as fruitful.