Even for those of us who saw the original 1956 Burt Lancaster/ Katherine Hepburn movie of The Rainmaker, this play is a treat. This excellent reprisal, written in 1954 by the famed N. Richard Nash and now directed by the accomplished Jack Heller, produced by Alexandra Guarnieri is presented by Henry Jaglom and The Rainbow Theatre Company in association with the Edgemar Center for the Arts on Santa Monica's main street.
The year is 1937. Suffering from a drought, this small Midwestern town desperately needs rain. When a stranger, Bill Starbuck (Robert Standley) rides into town to see the Curry family - Noah (David Garver), H.C (Stephen Howard) , Jim (Benjamin Chamberlain, and Lizzie (Tanna Frederick) and offers them a deal that he can make it rain for a mere $100, Lizzie immediately objects. She sees in him the con artist that he truly is.
Her brother has already made it clear that he thinks she is plain and will end up an old maid. Already feeling unattractive because of her failed trip to find a beau and then the fact that Deputy Sheriff File (Scott Roberts) has rejected her, Lizzie is determined to snub this stranger despite his charisma. Even so, the magic and romance cannot be held at bay. When File and Sheriff Thomas (Ralph Guzzo) determine that this dangerous con man is in town and at the Curry farm, they go out to arrest him, only to find the Curry family hiding and abetting his escape.
You are quickly drawn into the story of this struggling dysfunctional family. The acting was superb but Stadley and Frederick shone as the stars in their realistic portrayals of the con man changing and a woman transformed. They rivaled, if not equaled to the movie's actors, as the story came to a happy, satisfying conclusion.
“The Rainmaker” is about love, desire and magic, and expresses these themes so resonantly that the play has been translated into forty languages since it premiered on Broadway in 1954.
The set designed by Christopher Stone, painted by Marine Walton and dressed by Phi Tran made you feel from the moment you took your seats that you were in a 1937 farm house. The settings were helped and made for a seamless flow by the lighting from Juliet Klanchar. I loved the choice of costumes by Kelly Fluker. And of course, one cannot forget the music/sound from Noah Calvin.
Awarded Critics Choice, it's a play you'll be sorry if you miss. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing it again.
Now extended until May 19, 2013, the play shows Thursday-Saturdays at 7:30 pm and Sundays at 5:00 pm. Admission is $34.99 with a limited number of seats for $25. For reservations call 310 392 7327 or go to www.edgemarcenter.org.