It’s obvious that the playwright-actress Holland Taylor loves her subject, Ann Richards. In the play Ann at the Vivian Beaumont Theater, she portrays Richards, the assertive, tough, former alcoholic, divorced Democrat, who successfully ran for election and became governor of Texas.
Taylor researched her subject for more than six years and is so enamored of her that she seemed loathe to trim the show when she needed to edit. The show could have been 90 minutes without an intermission. After the opening scene at a commencement address, Ann gives some of her personal history. Finally she winds up in the governor’s office, a scene that goes on too long. Ann is multi-tasking, considering a stay of execution for a convicted killer, planning a speech, signing documents, dealing with her staff and speechwriter, even President Clinton, all the while juggling her four children and a family get-together.
There’s little actual story here and no specific events are highlighted. The show is personality-driven. The audience sees a busy person making phone calls and dealing with politics, yet taking the time to stop to buy each member on her staff a pair of boots.
Ann is quite different from the hard-talking Evelyn Harper, the character Taylor plays on TV’s Two and a Half Men. In Ann, Taylor has created a positive, down to earth, tough- love motherly character with a Texas accent and a glint in her eyes. Taylor really looks like her character, down to the white suit she wears.
Taylor obviously feels great affection for Ann and by the end, so do we. Tyson is glorious in A Trip To Bountiful is glorious. She lights up the stage and makes you want to sing along.
There may not be too many roles for older women but these two are certainly memorable.