"The Trip to Bountiful," With Cicely Tyson and Vanessa Williams, Will Be Screened at the White House

By Adam Hetrick
and Andrew Gans
21 Feb 2014

Cicely Tyson
Cicely Tyson
Photo by Joan Marcus

The TV film version of the Tony Award-nominated Broadway revival of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful, starring Tony and Emmy winner Cicely Tyson, will be screened at the White House Feb. 24.

Presented as part of Black History Month, First Lady Michelle Obama will introduce the 4 PM screening that will be attended by director Michael Wilson and cast members Tyson, Vanessa Williams, Blair Underwood and Keke Palmer.

The event will be live-streamed at whitehouse.gov//live.

The television film version of Bountiful features revival star Tyson repeating her performance as Carrie Watts alongside fellow revival cast member Williams. Underwood and Palmer joined for the film. Wilson, who directed the stage production, repeated his work for the TV film, which was shot in Atlanta in late 2013. It will air on the Lifetime network March 8.



In "The Trip to Bountiful," according to press notes, "Carrie Watts (Tyson) begrudgingly lives with her busy, overprotective son, Ludie (Underwood) and her snooty daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae (Williams). No longer able to drive and forbidden to travel alone, she wishes for freedom from the confines of the house and begs her son to take her on a visit to her hometown of Bountiful. When he refuses, Mrs. Watts is undeterred and makes an escape to the local bus station, where she befriends Thelma (Palmer), a young woman traveling home. When Ludie and Jessie Mae discover she is gone, they call in law enforcement to help, but Mrs. Watts is one step ahead of them and convinces the local sheriff to help her on her journey home to Bountiful."

Produced by Ostar Productions, "The Trip to Bountiful" is executive-produced by Bill Haber, Cicely Tyson, Hallie Foote and Jeff Hayes.

Composer John Gromada has written an original score for the Lifetime movie based on his original Broadway score for the revival.

The Broadway production of The Trip to Bountiful ended its run at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre Oct. 9, 2013. Upon closing, Bountiful played a total of 178 performances.

The play was nominated for four Tony Awards, including Best Actress in a Play (Cicely Tyson), Best Featured Actress in a Play (Condola Rashad), Best Sound Design for a Play (John Gromada) and Best Revival of a Play. Tyson won the Tony Award for her performance as Mother Carrie Watts, as well as the Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Circle Award.

The original Broadway company also included Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr. ("Jerry Maguire," "Red Tails"), Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad (Lifetime's "Steel Magnolias," Broadway's Stick Fly), Tony nominee Tom Wopat, Devon Abner, Curtis Billings, Pat Bowie, Leon Addison Brown, Arthur French, Susan Heyward, Bill Kux, Linda Powell and Charles Turner.

The Trip to Bountiful premiered as a teleplay on NBC in 1953, starring Lillian Gish as Carrie Watts. The play had its Broadway premiere later that year with the same cast, which also included Eva Marie Saint. The play was adapted by Foote into an acclaimed 1985 film starring Geraldine Page, for which she won the Academy Award. In 2005, Signature Theatre produced the play Off-Broadway starring Lois Smith, for which she won Lortel, Obie, Outer Critics and Drama Desk Awards.