Five minutes into The Trip to Bountiful, which opened last night at The Rep, Barbara N. Howard had the audience laughing, while playing the protagonist of the show - Mrs. Carrie Watts. Ten minutes into the show, Howard had the audience in complete stitches. Before the lights came down on the end of act one, she had stolen the hearts of every member of the audience.

Barbara N. Howard

      Capital Rep has out down itself in the casting department with this production of Horton Foote's classic tale. The show is funny, deeply moving, extremely entertaining and lead by an actress with more genuine and natural talent than I've seen in a long time.   
      The Trip to Bountiful tells the story of a woman toward the end of her years, bounding to her childhood home one last time.
      Barbara N. Howard's portrayal is beautiful, simple, and absolutely brilliant. She's the mother, grandmother, aunt, or neighbor that we knew and love. Howard has brings a quality of rawness to moments in the show that truly build a character that comes to life and steals your heart. If you're not routing for Ms. Howard, you're not at Bountiful.
      Capital Rep favorite Kevin Craig West returns to the area to perform a very different role from the last time he played the intimate venue, in David Mamets Race. West portrays Ludie Watts, the son of Howards character, with a lingering pain that turns to strength. Though West's character disappears in the middle of the show his arch of a story from beginning to end is something to marvel.
      Speaking of performances to marvel it would be a crime not to mention West's onstage wife, Jessie Mae Watts, played with annoying brilliance by Sadrina Renee. Renee finds a shifting but beautiful balance between ignorant daughter-in-law and generally caring family member. Her high pitched; fast-paced performance cuts like a sharp knife. Bravo, Ms. Renee, a brilliant take on a strong role.

      Danyel Fulton plays the adorable Thelma with innocence, warmth, and winning charm. Fulton creates a young woman that quickly comes to befriend and care for Howard's character. Within minutes you want them to ride out the show together. When Fulton joins Howard in a little dance, it'll make you nostalgic for grandparents lost, hopeful for kindness and friendship, and refreshed with a smile on your face. Fulton's portrayal is a gleaming beautiful light on a wonderful piece.
      Every member of this cast brings something wonderful to a simple yet important piece. At some point on the journey you're sure to make a wish for the lead character, find a strong relation, and likely remember a lost loved one.
      Bravo to the team at The Rep for bringing this wonderful piece back to the stage at a time it's needed most. Trip to Bountiful is simply wonderful and moving. A great theatrical journey, that you won't want to miss.
      "Bountiful" will have you thinking, asking internal questions, laughing, crying, and in simple awe. So as the lights go down, take a deep breath be ready to be transported, don't over think it. Just enjoy The Trip to Bountiful, playing at Capital Repertory Theatre through May 15!