By Brittany Lehman
Coming to an Augustana Theatre near you: Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful!” Directed by the talented Paul “Sparky” Johnson and comprised of a multi-talented cast and crew, this is surely to be an event you won’t want to miss.
The play follows the lives of Carrie Watts, her son Ludie, and his wife Jessie Mae; the couple must care for the elder woman as she cannot care for herself. Carrie longs to return to her rural roots in the community of Bountiful but Jessie Mae refuses to go, as she prefers the city life. Both women fight for what they want, leaving Ludie in an attempt to keep both Mama and Wifey happy.
A successful play has truths in which all spectators can relate. Ludie desires to mediate: who hasn’t found themselves caught between two friends, family members, or even co-workers? The realism of the characters’ desire to get what they want – and refusal to compromise – is definitely relatable (or is this just me?). Also of note is the theme of religion throughout the play, a topic that tends to make people both uncomfortable and yet feel at home.
Hymns play a large role in the play, sung between each scene. They didn’t serve to make me feel as though I was warming a pew, but rather they are used to further develop the characters and to give insight into how they are feeling. Religion effects everybody, whether positively or negatively, and the play caters to all faiths in this regard; you don’t have to be a (former) Christian or very devout to get lost in the gorgeous blend of voices rising and falling in lovely harmonies.
The set and the costumes are also quite fetching. Take for instance, the 50s-style red polka-dot dress worn by Aleisha Sommer, a senior student who plays Jessie Mae. This will be Aleisha’s final production here at Augustana, and it is bittersweet.
“This place has been my home for five years,” says Aleisha. “I have worked really hard to develop relationships with everyone: profs, students, and also the audience. I get so much more out of acting now; it has become far less superficial than it was in the beginning. It will be tough to say goodbye, but I am excited to be more independent in my own acting, finding and creating opportunities for myself.”
The talent of the upperclassmen blends well with the up and coming stars of the Augustana Theatre. Those responsible for lighting cues and other technical wizardry have done a fantastic job as well.
Make sure to head to the Theatre Building March 20-22 to see the show! Doors open at 7:00 with the show starting at 7:30. Tickets are $15 for general admission or $5 for students (with your One Card). Be sure to make it out and support a night of Fine Art!