When “The Trip to Bountiful” wrapped up its 48-performance run at the Ahmanson Theater Nov. 2, it cemented its place as one of the top-selling non-musical productions ever at the L.A. theater — thanks in part to an unusual post-Broadway life for the play that includes a touring Tony winner and a TV movie adaptation.
With one more regional run on the books (at Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theater later this month) and one or two more possible, “Trip to Bountiful” serves as a reminder that Broadway isn’t the only road to recoupment for legit producers. The $2.9 million Broadway production of “Bountiful” — which won topliner Cicely Tyson a Tony — didn’t make it into the black in New York, but now the movie and the tour have funneled funds back to the show’s producers.
“We’re not there yet, but we’re on the way to recoupment,” said Nelle Nugent, producer of both the Broadway production and the run at the Ahmanson. “We can derive money not only from the weeks we’re playing in L.A. and in Boston but from the movie too.”
“Bountiful” has been helped along by the unusual commitment of its cast. In a relatively rare development for Broadway productions on the road, the original Tony-winning star, Tyson, has stuck with the title, as has fellow Rialto cast member Vanessa Williams. Blair Underwood, who appeared in the show in L.A. and will continue on with it to Boston, wasn’t in the New York incarnation but co-starred with Tyson and Williams in the Lifetime movie adaptation that aired in March.
That telepic, which averaged 2.1 million viewers and for which Tyson was nominated for an Emmy, also gave a boost to the title’s national profile. The film got to the smallscreen via Bill Haber, the CAA co-founder who’s now a producer active both on Broadway and in Hollywood. He was on the Broadway producing team for “Bountiful,” and his Ostar Prods. shingle produced Lifetime’s movie version.
The property’s TV adaptation seems likely to have been a factor in the success of “Bountiful” at the Ahmanson, where the show’s popularity put it in the ranks of similarly well-attended runs of plays including “God of Carnage” and “War Horse.” Reps for the Ahmanson report that a hefty chunk of B.O. for the show came from single-ticket buyers, indicating the show’s appeal stretched beyond the venue’s usual subscriber pool.
Meanwhile, producers have reason to hope their investment in “Bountiful” will continue to yield revenue: Nugent said that Tyson has expressed interest in playing one or two more stops around the country after the Boston run that kicks off Nov. 20.