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Nicolet College - Nicolet Players fine tune roles for upcoming play The Trip to Bountiful


 

Nicolet Players fine tune roles
for upcoming play The Trip to Bountiful

 

Posted April 19, 2011
The Nicolet Players are deep into rehearsals for The Trip to Bountiful. Written by award-winning Broadway playwright Horton Forte, the play will be performed at Nicolet College Theatre May 6 to 8 and again May 12 to 15.

Bountiful Rehearsal “Horton Foote is revered for his ability to create characters you want to get to know,” said Nicolet Theatre Director Jim Nuttall. “Bountiful fits into a category of drama where the suspense lies not in some big spectacular ending but in identifying with the fully-developed, three-dimensional characters and their dilemmas. It’ll bring to mind works such as Tender Mercies with Robert Duvall, and On Golden Pond with Katharine Hepburn and Henry and Jane Fonda.”

A play that celebrates realism presents its own challenges during rehearsal, especially when many in the cast have no previous acting experience.

“It’s a play about important things – the yearning to return home and what ‘place’ means – but the conversation among the characters is very simple,” Nuttall said. “When the actors tap into this, it's a pleasure to listen to. It’s like being around good friends, talking about what's happening in their day. We’re working on setting the right tone, so the audience can sit back and take pleasure in getting to know these interesting people.”

The central character is Mrs. Watts, played by Judy Berby. “Judy is putting a lot of thought into her role,” Nuttall said. “She brings in new ideas every night as she tries to figure out what makes this character tick.”

While she appears in all seven scenes and has a lot of lines to memorize, it hasn’t been too hard, Berby said. “You get into what’s happening and the lines come pretty naturally.”

Berby, 64 and recently retired from Nicolet after a 30-year career as an instructor of early childhood education, said she identifies with Mrs. Watts’ situation. “She has a heart condition and is stuck in a tiny apartment in Houston, living with her son and a daughter-in-law who barely tolerates her. She isn’t a city girl. She terribly misses her old farm on the Gulf. I recalled a visit to my son and his wife and two little kids in Las Vegas, and sleeping on their couch. I wondered, what if I couldn’t get out on my own, and I couldn’t get back to Rhinelander and the woods and lakes I love?”

Mrs. Watts must deal with her son Ludie and daughter-in-law Jessie Mae (played by Al Higgins and Carmen Jovanovic, respectively). “Poor Ludie is trying so hard to make this awful situation work,” Berby said. “He has a domineering wife and a needy mother. I feel so badly for him.”

Berby, in fact, adores all of the characters in Bountiful. “They are so full of real-life issues,” she said. “How they manage to make their life livable – this is the heart of this play. They each have a transformational moment.”

Berby speaks just as highly of her director and fellow cast members. “Jim Nuttall is very insightful,” she said. “His suggestions are always good. He helps us to see the big picture. And the cast is so talented and fun to be with. We have a nice camaraderie. It's fun to go to rehearsal every night.”

Other cast members include Jess Smith, Brent McFarland, Henry Galvin, Steve Richardson, Mike Hubbard, Jim Leonard, Chris Bruso, Elizabeth Dickinsen and Kristin Larsen.

Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7; 2 p.m. Sunday, May 8; 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 12 to 14; with the closing performance at 2 p.m., Sunday, May 15. Tickets $8 for the general public and $6 for students and senior citizens.

Click here to order tickets online or call (715) 365-4646, 1-800-544-3039, ext. 4646.