“A Trip To Bountiful” a play by the late, Horton Foote an extraordinary writer who chronicled America in plays and film and a visionary co-producer who is also the National Basketball Association (NBA) center for the New York Knicks, Tyson Chandler has brought the All-Star cast of Cicely Tyson, Vanessa. Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Condola Rashad to the Broadway stage. The play is directed by Michael Wilson at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre, located at 124 W. 43rd St. in Manhattan until September 1, 2013.
Horton Foote was the winner to a Pulitzer Prize for adapting “To Kill A Mocking Bird” (which originally featured Gregory Peck and Brock Peters) and two academy awards. He also received a National Medal of Arts from President Bill Clinton. Horton received in 2000 with fellows: Maya Angelou (Poet, Writer), Itzhak Perlman (Violinist), Hal Prince (Theatrical Producer), Mikhail Baryshnikov (Dancer, Director), and Barbara Streisand (Entertainer, Filmmaker). The New York Times wrote when announcing his death at the age of 92 in 2009 that Horton Foote,” depicted the way ordinary people shoulder the ordinary burdens of life, finding drama in the resilience by which they carry on in the face of hardship, disappointments, loss and death.”
Tyson Chandler is the much talked about 7’1” NBA center for the New York Knicks who had an awe inspiring and dramatic season under that new coaching of Mike Woodson. Tyson as a Broadway producer supporting this type of script with a legendary cast and director is a really dynamic collaboration and project in and of itself. It’s extraordinary for pop-culture sports celebrities to take business and artistic interest in serious arts and humanities projects with veteran actors whose lives are dedicated to preserving great entertainment and literary works.
Cicely Tyson is a three-time Emmy Award winner and she now has been nominated for a Tony Award in this play. It has been 30-years since she last played on Broadway and she has already been recognized for her considerable theatrical talents with a nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Play. The Amsterdam News says, ”Cicely Tyson in her 80’s is as young as springtime an makes the play grand!”
Vanessa L. Williams, a Grammy, Emmy and Tony nominated artist and fabulous mom is a Westchester, NY native. Vanessa recently has starred in supernatural drama 666 Park Avenue and Desperate Housewives and Soul Food, the Fox 2000 film produced by Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Tracey Edmonds, and Robert Teitel. She was last on Broadway in 1995 in the musical Kiss of the Spider Woman and is enjoyed on our radios singing songs like Disney hit the “Colors of the Wind” and phenomenal R&B hit “Save the Best for Last”.
Academy Award winning actor, Cuba M. Gooding Jr. has an intense east coast/west coast background and is best known for his legendary role in, Boyz ‘N the Hood and for playing pro-athlete Rod Tidwell in his Jerry Maguire film with Tom Cruise where he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Cuba also was featured in George Lucas’ polemic and historic production of Red Tails to honor the Tuskegee Airman.
Condola P. Rashad, actress is the daughter of Phylicia Rashad and former NFL wide receiver and sports commentator Ahmad Rashad. Ms. Rashad is accomplished already with stage, television and film credits in her own right. She is recently nominated for a Tony Award in this production after having a prior nomination for her role last year in, StickFly where she was first considered for Best Featured Actress in a Play. Condola is also a Westchester, NY native.
Michael Wilson, the director has a long list of accomplishments as a director/producer of the works of author, Tennessee Williams and in having prior experience directing Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man” (Schoenfeld Theater), Horton Foote’s “Dividing the Estate” (Lincoln Center Theater), John Van Druten’s “Old Acquaintances” (Roundabout Theatre), Matthew Barber’s “Enchanted April” (Belasco Theatre) to name just a few credits.
“The Trip to Bountiful” according to the theatre information source, The AndyGram, “The Trip to Bountiful”, tells the story of Carrie Watts (Tyson), an elderly woman who dreams of returning to her small hometown of Bountiful, TX one last time, against the wishes of her overprotective son (Gooding) and domineering daughter-in-law (Williams). Her journey becomes a heart-breaking but ultimately life-affirming and inspiring tale that examines the fragility of memory and celebrates the enduring power of hope and faith.
As an educator, I immediately think of the new potential introduced by this collaborative project featuring sports dollars, seasoned actors and good a script. It’s a great project to share with students. Especially detailing that sports celebrities can have a real connection to literary treasures and serious actors. When a Tyson Chandler can take leadership in a project to preserve our historic writers and art forms it’s big news and signs of a maturing societal culture. Just imagine the people that will be introduced to Broadway just because of his participation! Plus! Who knows… what is now possible educationally and what new correlations, comparisons and contrasts will be made in schools to study the English Language Arts and great works about real Americans types of characters? Perhaps the works by the late playwright, August Wilson with his ten plays in 10-year reflections about life in Pittsburgh will be compared to Horton Foote’s collection of dramatic works about Texans. Perhaps this kind of discussion will soon hold the attention of students in U.S. classes and guest speakers will be people like Tyson Chandler and new scholar/athletes coupled with writers and stage, film and television celebrities and theatre buffs to drive home the importance of reading, writing and preserving literature (?).
The full team of producers (in no particular order) for this notable production are: Halle Foote, Stephen C. Byrd, Nellie Nugent, Paula Marie Black, Alia M. Jones, Kenneth Teaton, David R. Weinreb, Carol L. Haber, Ricardo Horn0s, Wendy Federman, Carl Moellenberg, Tyson and Kimberly Chandler, Philip Geier, Kevin Liles and the Fifty Church Street Productions.
“The Trip to Bountiful” is very encouraging. This is perhaps a full court press and scores in every possible way but we still have to watch each player and each performance one at a time!
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The Amsterdam News
New York Times
Huffington Post Pop Culture
Tyson Chandler and Wife Join Producing Team
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