The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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Rich characters give ‘The Traveling Lady’ strong footing

Misty+Venters+and+Aubrey+Hanson+star+in+%E2%80%9CThe+Traveling+Lady%E2%80%9D+onstage+at+WaterTower+Theatre+through+May+1.
MARK ORISTANO/WaterTower Theatre
Misty Venters and Aubrey Hanson star in “The Traveling Lady” onstage at WaterTower Theatre through May 1.

Misty Venters and Aubrey Hanson star in “The Traveling Lady” onstage at WaterTower Theatre through May 1. (MARK ORISTANO/WaterTower Theatre)

WaterTower Theatre’s entry into the DFW Horton Foote Festival is an excellent rendition of “The Traveling Lady.”

Written in 1954, this is the oldest work being staged by one of the professional theater companies in town, but the play is brought to life by touching performances from the entire cast.

This is the story of Georgette Thomas who has newly arrived in town with her daughter Margaret Rose to meet her husband Henry in his hometown of Harrison, Texas (a fictional town often used to depict Foote’s actual hometown of Wharton).

Henry has just been released from the state penitentiary after Georgette spent the past six years working to earn the money for his pardon. While searching for Henry, Georgette and Margaret Rose are immediately loved and taken in by Slim Murray and his sister Clara Breedlove, along with a host of the town’s women.

As is usually the case in homecoming stories, Henry has ghosts in his closet that he has told Georgette nothing about — although you begin to wonder how long she’s been living in denial. One of the town’s matriarchs Mrs. Tillman has taken Henry in with the hope of reforming him, and he appears to have created a crystal-clear image of repentance to keep her happy.

There is a strong sense of family and community created by  Clara, Mrs. Tillman and their neighbors the Mavis’ that is charming and comforting, in a lemonade-on-the-front-porch way.

Dorothy Deavers gives an amusing performance as the elderly, forgetful Mrs. Mavis, who sneaks around the town at all hours of the night. Lisa Fairchild balances Deavers with her performance of Sitter Mavis, the wide-eyed, middle-aged daughter always chasing after her mother. Allyn Carrell as Clara and Nancy Sherrard as Mrs. Tillman round out the Harrison women, with performances that are both genuine and distinct in tone.

Misty Venters and Scott Venters capture the heart of an uncomfortable situation with appropriate depth.

And even if the ending seems rather trite for such a touching story, the play is an exceptional example of Foote done well.

For more information visit watertowertheatre.org.

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