Good Theater is closing out its 15th season with Horton Foote’s “The Trip to Bountiful,” starring veteran actress Louisa Flaningam. The play is a touching reminder that the source of happiness, like beauty, truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Flaningam’s illustrious 48-year career has spanned from regional theater to Broadway, with notable roles including Fastrada in the national tour of Bob Fosse’s “Pippin,” Cleo in the 1979 Broadway revival of “The Most Happy Fella,” the national tour of “I Love My Wife” with the Smothers Brothers and “Damn Yankees” with Tony Randall. She brings this combined experience to Good Theater in a memorable portrayal of Carrie Watts.

For 20 years, mother Watts has longed to return to her childhood home in Bountiful, Texas. After her father’s death, she sold off the family land and moved to Houston with her son Ludie (Christopher Holt). Now, with her health failing, she desperately wants to return to Bountiful, the only place she ever truly felt at peace.

Flaningam offers a multi-layered performance that’s an endearing combination of frustration and unquenchable spunk. She rallies the audience to root for mother Watts, flashing a devilish look of innocence as the character plots to run away from the cramped two-room apartment that she shares with her son and his wife of 15 years, Jessie Mae (Amy Roche).

The play, directed by Brian P. Allen, does a fine job capturing the stark differences between the mother and daughter-in-law. While Carrie enjoys the simple pleasures of life, like birds singing in the countryside, Jessie Mae’s idea of heaven is visiting the beauty parlor or getting a Coca-Cola at the corner drugstore.

Roche is well cast, portraying Jessie Mae as spoiled with an inherent lack of empathy. She is the character that the audience loves to hate, managing to bring a smile with the absurdity of her character’s displaced priorities.

Ludie is a complex character, filled with underlying guilt and feelings of failure. Holt’s portrayal is intense and heartbreaking. Anguish clouds his face as his character, torn between his wife and mother, struggles to make everyone happy.

Hannah Daly (Thelma), Glenn Anderson (Houston Ticket Man #1/Roy) and Michael Kimball (Houston Ticket Man #2/Sheriff) round out the cast, backed by a talented five-member ensemble. The characters flesh out the storyline, offering perspective as mother Watts journeys back to Bountiful.

Set designer Francois Lamothe recreates 1953 Texas with a clever set that can be quickly dismantled and remade into various locales, including the Watts’ apartment, the bus stations and the family home in Bountiful. Scenic Artist Cheryl Dolan’s rendering of Bountiful is tragically beautiful.

“The Trip to Bountiful” is a heartfelt portrayal of life. As mother Watts tells Thelma on the bus from Houston, “No one should be ashamed of crying. We have all dampened our pillow at some point.” As the characters in the play discover, the journey to happiness may not always be easy, but each of us must be allowed to make the trip to our own Bountiful, whatever, or wherever that may be.

April Boyle is a freelance writer from Casco. Contact her at:

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Twitter: @ahboyle