Persistence was the key that resulted in the Sherman Community Players’ first 2017 presentation being the classic “The Trip To Bountiful.”
“I have been pitching ‘The Trip To Bountiful’ to the Sherman Community Players for the past 20 years,” Darrah Dunn, the guest director and veteran SCP actor, said. “I think a notable Texas playwright such as Horton Foote deserves to have his work performed in the third oldest community theater in Texas.”
The Sherman Community Players board finally gave Dunn his wish, plus asked him take on the task of directing the play.
Foote’s moving stage drama tells the story of Carrie Watts, an elderly woman, who longs to escape the cramped Houston apartment where she lives with her son, Ludie, and her authoritarian daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. Carrie wants to return to her beloved home of Bountiful, Texas, one more time before she dies. The first production of this show was on NBC-TV in March of 1953, just before its Nov. 3 debut on Broadway at the Henry Miller Theater.
“The original production starred the silent screen star, Lillian Gish as Carrie Watts,” Dunn said. “It just so happens that Lillian Gish and her sister performed at the Sherman Opera House back around 1912. I guess they were vaudevillians at the time on a tour. I just find it an interesting tie-in and yet another example of our city’s history of involvement with the arts.”
Nancy Cassady plays the demanding part of the Bountiful-bound Carrie. Cassady, like Dunn, is a veteran of the SCP stage and a longtime crowd favorite. She is also the wife of retired SCP director, Ron Cassady. Both have continued to volunteer with the theater in a variety of capacities on stage and off.
“This is my first serious role since I played Maria in the non-comic ‘The Sound of Music,’ ” Cassady said. “Carrie is a melancholy soul — strong and fragile at the same time. I would like the audience to see her calm determination and also realize that sometimes, you can go back home.”
A working actor in New York City, Nick Tanner, playing the role of Ludie, isn’t new to the SCP stage, either. It’s where he got his start and returned as a guest artist for “Bountiful.” The last time SCP audiences saw Tanner was four years ago in “The Three Musketeers” as the adventurous D’Artagnan.
Asked about switching from an ambitious and proud character like D’Artagnan to such a restrained and quiet portrayal of a character such as Ludie, Tanner said, “Ludie could possibly be perceived as weak and beaten down, but a closer look reveals something else altogether. He is a good and kind man caught between two rather demanding women that he obviously loves. He is something of a damaged individual and it is difficult for him to articulate his thoughts at times. He works hard at a meager paying office job and provides as best he can for his household as he tries to strike a balance with both women. I think it takes a strong person to do what he does.”
Rounding out the “Bountiful” cast are: Kacie Gaylon as Jesse Mae; Lisa Martin as Thelma; Bobby Hancock as the sheriff; Maxwell Norris as Roy and as ticket agent 2; and Bob Entrekin as ticket agent 1.
The Trip to Bountiful will run Feb. 3 through 19 at the historic Finley Theater in Sherman. Evening performances will be at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. Tickets will go on sale this week. For information, call 903-892-8818 or go to www.scptheater.org.