As Tambay mentioned in a post yesterday announcing her signing up to co-star with Paula Patton and Derek Luke in David E. Talbert’s upcoming rom-com Baggage Claim, Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer has quite a full slate of films scheduled to be released in the next 12 months (whether on the film festival circuit, or traditional commercial release in theaters).
No post-Oscar curse here for the actress.
One of those feature films is an adaptation of Del Shores’ 2003 critically-acclaimed, award-winning play titled The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife, which our theater world readers will likely be familiar with.
The film, which will have a different title – Blues for Willadean – stars Beth Grant and Octavia Spencer, and is scheduled to make its world premiere at the SHOUT Gay & Lesbian Film Festival in Birmingham, Alabama, later this month. The festival runs from August 21- 26.
Its full synopsis reads:
Blues for Willadean is about Willadean (Beth Grant), a woman trying to find her place in life. Her husband (David Steen) is physically and mentally abusive and has banned Willadean from having contact with their homosexual son, which eventually leads Willadean down her path of discovery. Supporting her along the way is her best friend, LaSonia (Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer), her sole confidant and someone who has seen her fair share of the world and knows exactly what Willadean is going through. Blues for Willadean is darkly comic and entertaining drama about a woman’s journey into her own self-discovery, brought to you by the master of Southern culture, Del Shores.
The film was shot last year in Atlanta, GA, on a sub-$1 million budget, with every original member of the stage production reprising their roles in the film, including Octavia Spencer.
It may not be widely-known that she has a theater credit. It’s listed as the only stage production she’s done.
Shores directed the filmed version from his own adaptation of his play. Although it’s worth noting that this is the third Shores play to be made into a feature film; Shores has also served as executive producer and writer on TV shows like Queer As Folk, and as consulting producer and writer on Dharma & Greg.
The play that the film is based on – The Trials and Tribulations of a Trailer Trash Housewife – was very well-received and reviewed, which bodes well for the film. It won Best Production from the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Backstage West Garland Awards, LA Weekly Awards, and even the NAACP Theatre Awards.
Shores won writing awards also from NAACP, Los Angeles Drama Critics, Backstage West and LA Weekly for his work on the play.
Dale Dickey (Winter’s Bone, My Name Is Earl, Changeling), David Steen (Sordid Lives: The Series, Disrupt/Dismantle) and Billboard Top 5 and television recording artist Debby Holiday round out the film’s starring cast.
There appears to be a heavy African American presence in the cast, including the already mentioned Octavia Spencer and Debby Holiday (playing a blues singer): T. Ashanti Mozelle plays Octavia Spencer’s character’s “hot husband. They have a real good marriage,” is how the character is described; Shalitras Flowers playing a character named “Ranisha;” Roblyn Allicia is “Odessa” and a few others.
Although it’s not public how all these additional characters are involved in the story.
Robert L. Rearden, Jr, Del Shores and Emerson Collins are producing the film, in association with Beth Grant’s Big Leap Productions and Del Shores Productions.
There is no trailer yet for the film adaptation, but I did find this promotional video (below) which was created to be included in a fundraising package for investors in the upcoming filmed version; it should give you a good idea of what to expect: