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NY1 Theater Review: "The Trip To Bountiful"

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Legendary performer Cicely Tyson returns to the Broadway stage with Vanessa Williams and Cuba Gooding, Jr. in the first revival of Horton Foote's "The Trip to Bountiful." NY1's Roma Torre filed the following review.

Horton Foote's heartfelt play "The Trip To Bountiful" debuted on Broadway 60 years ago starring Lillian Gish. Cicely Tyson takes the lead role in the revival; and in keeping with all the other great actresses who've stepped into the shoes of homesick Carrie Watts, Ms Tyson runs away with it - and I do mean run!

At age 79 (or is it 88), Cicely Tyson, last seen on Broadway 30 years ago, seems right at home on that big stage. Home is, of course, the operative word here, since the play is really all about its eternal pull on our lives and the desperate need for some people to return.

Carrie Watts is a ball of energy, but the cramped Houston apartment where she lives with her son Ludie and his bossy wife, Jessie Mae feels like a prison, and she'll do anything to get back to her rural hometown of Bountiful. One day, she gets her chance and breaks out.

At the bus terminal, she befriends Thelma, a kind young woman played with lovely restraint by Condola Rashad. At another stop, Arthur French as a station manager projects great decency. And Tom Wopat makes a big impression in the tiny role of a sheriff who eventually gets Carrie back to Bountiful.

This is a tender, deceptively simple work that requires great sensitivity. Director Michael Wilson has the right touch, but the dynamic seems off in the earlier scenes. Vanessa Williams comes on so strong, the other two characters seem in danger of being eaten by her. Later on, they all seem to find their stride, and by the end, Cuba Gooding Jr. delivers a moving portrayal.

But this really is Tyson's show, and she packs quite a punch in that tiny frame, literally. Spunky and warm, this is a performance that's sure to be talked about for the next 60 years.

Do I need to mention the racial composition of the cast? I think not. Anyone can make that trip to Bountiful. All that's needed is a yearning to go home.

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