The Trip to Bountiful Presented by Visalia Players

Oct 1, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Theatre

by Nancy Holley

Special KRL coupon code at the end of this article.

“If you don’t make peace with the changes in life, it will break your heart.” – Horton Foote

Director Peg Collins believes that Foote’s quote is particularly apropos of The Trip to Bountiful. “Mrs. Watts, Ludie, and Jessie Mae are trying to make peace with the changes in their lives and in their relationships.” Until peace is made with their situations, each feels trapped by circumstances.

Carrie Watts (Debbie Walker) for reasons of age and health must live with her son and daughter-in-law in the city away from her beloved Bountiful. Walker contends that Carrie sees her difficulties with her daughter-in-law and her son as a type of punishment. “She reflects on her life, trying to decide what she did right and wrong. She wonders what she did to deserve not being in Bountiful. She longs for the feeling of family and community that Bountiful represents.”


From left to right: Aaron Johnson as Ludie; Debbie Walker as Carrie; and Nicole Griffiths as Jesse Mae.

Ludie Watts (Aaron Johnson), due to a prolonged illness that depleted his savings and a new job at minimal salary, must rely on his mother’s pension check to make ends meet. “Ludie is very respectful and responsible, particularly with the women in his life,” notes Johnson, “so he beats himself up for not being able to support them without help.” Johnson describes Ludie’s family interactions and bond with the past as very different from his own experience leading to his growth as an actor.

Jessie Mae Watts (Nicole Griffiths), who dreams of a life of leisure filled only with movies, magazines, beauty salons, and shopping, must live in a cramped apartment with her mother-in-law who is in bad health. Griffiths describes the relationship between Mrs. Watts and Jessie Mae as very complex. “On the surface it appears they are fighting over Ludie, but there is a deeper power struggle. Both are very much alike and hate being trapped by circumstances beyond their control.”

Carrie, eluding the watchful eyes of Ludie and Jesse Mae, sets out for Bountiful only to learn that there is no longer any public transportation going to Bountiful. She must settle for a bus to a neighboring town where she spent enjoyable times in her youth.

Fortunately for Carrie, Thelma (Jennifer Toledo) is on the same bus. Thelma, being concerned for an older woman traveling alone, befriends Carrie helping all she can until her next bus leaves.

Carrie having little money (no one will cash her pension check) spends the night in the bus depot, where she is found by the Sheriff (Wayne Mayberry). Ludie frantic with worry has contacted the sheriff and ask that he find and keep his mother until he can arrive.


From left to right: Debbie Walker as Carrie and Aaron Johnson as Ludie.

“He sees a deep vulnerability in her. She could be his mother or grandmother. He wants to help her and he does. He makes the right decision,” says Mayberry. Mayberry believes that through the Sheriff’s generosity, Mrs. Watts finally decides to let go of the past and accept where she is in life. “Acceptance is important.”

The cast and director emphasize that the play says a lot about human nature and about unanticipated changes. “Many people never intend to live with others and when they must, the relationships can be difficult,” states Collins. Griffiths proposed, “The show will cause thought. You will walk away thinking about aspects of your own life.”

On Sunday October 12 after the matinee, “Back Stage at the Ice House” will be hosted by Sharon DeCoux, a veteran Visalia Player. Audience members will have an opportunity for a behind the scenes look at the show and the opportunity to ask questions and interact with cast/crew.

The Trip to Bountiful opens at the Ice House Theater at Race and Santa Fe in Visalia at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, October 10, 2014 and runs for two weekends with evening performances at 7:30 p.m. on 10/10, 10/11, 10/17 and 10/18 and matinees at 2:00 p.m. on 10/12, and 10/19.

For more information about the Visalia Community Players and to purchase tickets, check out their website and KRL’s article about VCP. Tickets may also be purchased by calling 734-3900. For details about local arts groups in Tulare County, visit the Visalia Arts Consortium website.

Check out more local theatre reviews this week right here in KRL & even more theatre reviews & articles in our Arts & Entertainment section!

To purchase two tickets for the price of one, enter KRLTTB in the Have a code? box on the Buy/Redeem Tickets Reservation page via the Players website.

Nancy Holley has been involved in the Visalia Players off and on since the 1970s, both as a director and actor. In 2010, she retired from 25 years as a software consultant and has since expanded her role at the Players. She is now responsible for Box Office/Hosting volunteers and assisting with launching the Players new on-line ticketing system.


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