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There is an excitement in the theatre community; a buzz that is building as the play The Trip to Bountiful prepares to open at the Cape Fear Regional Theatre. 

The buzz surrounds the return to the stage by Bo Thorp, the founding artistic director of the theatre, who has been absent from the stage for almost two years. This month, Thorp, along with veteran CFRT actors Greg King and Libby Seymour, will join forces to bring a hopeful play to the stage, one that invites you to take a journey.

“I think a return to roots and nature is a thing that can be very healing,” said Anne Scarbrough, the director of The Trip to Bountiful. “Horton Foote asks us to consider whether a return from where we came might help us consider who we are. It invites us to have a return to our strength and dignity. This is an idea that  really resonates with me.”

Scarbrough, a director from California, understands the need to return to simpler times and things.

“The short of it is that I grew up in the country and now I live in the city,” she said. “I miss it every single day — the rhythms of it. The frequency with which the city vibrates versus that which the country vibrates is very different.”

For Scarbrough, exploring those differences and the need to return to the simple brings a feeling of hope.

“I see a great hopefulness in this piece, one that I haven’t seen in other productions, although I have seen some wonderful productions. I haven’t seen the version that lives in my heart,” she explained. “I felt excited about playing out that vision. This play is about healing, a hopeful, bright future for the this family.”

Scarbrough was also enticed to come to Fayetteville and direct this play through her long-standing friendship with CFRT Artistic Director Tom Quaintance.

My dear friend Tom, spoke so highly to me about this community. I could hear in his voice how wonderful it has been to be a part of this community and to work with Bo, and I wanted a piece of that,” she said. “That sounded so good to me.”

While Scarbrough did auditions for the lead roles in New York, she soon discovered that the community already had the perfect cast to stage this show, eventually casting Thorp, King and Seymour. Speaking of their professionalism, Scarbrough noted, “It is apparent in their work on stage. Off stage, they are so down to earth, warm and welcoming. They made me feel  like I belong here. It is on stage that you truly begin to see why they are so revered in this community.”

She noted that while watching a run-through of the play, she is amazed at the talent and craft of the cast.

“I’m watching a run and see their craft on stage, and I remember there is a reason why they are revered here,” she said, noting that she also is in awe of the bond between the three. “There is a real apparent and palpable love and it is showing up in this story.”

That will be key to the success of the play. The Trip to Bountiful is a story of rebellion and redemption. It’s a story about running away and coming home.”

That’s a topic that Thorp can embrace. Having been absent from the stage for almost two years, Thorp’s return to the stage is a homecoming of sorts.

“I love to work,” she said. “When you haven’t worked in a while, your muscles get broken. In the olden days of the Fort Bragg Play House and the Little Theatre, there was never a time I wasn’t in a play or directing a play,” she said. “The muscle was so fresh. Having been gone from it makes me realize I have a focus, a reason to get up and get going to something I love. Even though it’s hard and agony, it’s what I want. I have to remind myself of that. 

“It is called work, because it is work. It is recreating these lives and living them,” she said. 

For tickets and show times, visit the CFRT website at www.cfrt.org.

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