The Trip to Bountiful

In a tip of the cowboy hat to Western sensibilities, Denver Center Theatre Company artistic director Kent Thompson opens the company's 30th season with Horton Foote's poignant tale of a dying woman's nostalgia for the wide-open spaces and sense of place of her rural roots.

Kathleen M. Brady as Mrs. Carrie Watts
Kathleen M. Brady
as Mrs. Carrie Watts
Photo by Terry Shapiro
Mrs. Carrie Watts (Kathleen M. Brady) spends her days in a Houston apartment, cleaning and cooking under the oppressive oversight of her patronizing daughter-in-law Jesse Mae (Sara Kathryn Bakker), hoping to hang on to her pension check and run away to the abandoned family spread in Bountiful, Texas.

Brady's consummate comedic talents provide backlighting for a dramatic performance of impressive artistry, as Carrie wrestles with impending mortality and a desire to return home again. Our hearts go out to Carrie, as Brady details the desperation of her situation.

Larry Bull as Ludie Watts
Larry Bull as Ludie Watts
Photo by Terry Shapiro
Ludie (Larry Bull), Carrie's son, is torn between his loyalties to his mother and his wife, while he tries to barter a truce between the women and their conflicting spiritual and material motivations. Bull's patient portrait sets the tone for the repressed, early 1950's emotional landscape.

Sara Kathryn Bakker as Jessie Mae Watts
Sara Kathryn Bakker
as Jessie Mae Watts
Photo by Terry Shapiro

As the antagonist, Bakker deftly balances Jesse Mae's selfishness and simple-mindedness, leveraging a subtle distinction that enables a critical shift at the end of the story.

Well-drawn support from Julie Jesneck, Randy Moore, John Hutton, and Jeffrey Roark, along with Lisa M. Orzolek's minimal, spot-on set pieces and Deborah M. Dryden's classy period costumes evoke an impressive array of bygone archetypes and images.

John Hutton as the Sheriff
John Hutton
as the Sheriff
Photo by Terry Shapiro
Director Penny Metropulos' economic staging keeps the focus on character dynamics, allowing playwright Foote to wow us with his rare ability to coax a catharsis from a straight-up, unadorned slice-of-life.

The Denver Center Theatre Company's production of Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful runs through October 25th. 303-893-4100 or

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