One of the many feature films on Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer's upcoming slate of 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 has a different title – Blues for Willadean – stars Beth Grant, Octavia Spencer, Dale Dickey and David Steen. The film premiered at the SHOUT Film Festival as the Closing Night Selection, and won the Best Narrative Audience Award.
Its full synopsis reads:
From writer/director Del Shores (Daddy’s Dyin’ Who’s Got the Will, Sordid Lives), Blues for Willadean is the screen adaptation of his popular play, Trials and Tribulations of A Trailer Trash Housewife 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 the 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), (Sordid Lives: The Series, Disrupt/Dismantle) and Billboard Top 5 and television recording artist Debby Holiday round out the film's strong 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.
Robert L. Rearden, Jr, Del Shores and Emerson Collins are producers of the film, in association with Beth Grant’s Big Leap Productions and Del Shores Productions.
The film will be in theaters and on VOD in October. When we have exact dates, so will you.
Shadow And Act has your exclusive first look at the film's trailer and full poster, both embedded below: