Before it was adapted into 110 in the Shade, before the title was taken for an unrelated John Grisham novel, The Rainmaker was a 1954 Broadway success for playwright N. Richard Nash and stars Geraldine Page and Darren McGavin.
Now the classic comedy/drama will get a staging (Feb. 27-March 22) at St. Petersburg, FL's American Stage, now in its 19th season.
The Rainmaker is the story of Bill Starbuck, a good-natured con artist who promises some midwestern farmers that he will bring rain to their drought-stricken town. In the process, Starbuck romances one of the farmer's daughter, Lizzie, convincing her of her self-worth.
The original The Rainmaker spurred a 1956 film version starring Katherine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster. Nine years later, Nash collaborated with Tom Jones and Harvey Smith of Fantasticks fame to create a musical version of the show, 110 in the Shade, which ran on Broadway for 331 performances. Shade was revived a few years ago at City Opera with Karen Ziemba.
Jim Wise, artistic director of the Asolo's Series X in FL, directs Rainmaker. Says he, "Everybody in the play has lost the ability to effectively communicate. Starbuck is also dysfunctional, but he serves as the catalyst, breaking the family apart and then bringing them together again. Lizzie learns that happiness comes from within and not from catching a man." Starring in The Rainmaker at American Stage are Charles Tucker (Starbuck), Lynn Laurence (Lizzie), Bill Down, Jack Eddleman, James Doerr, Rainard Rachele and Josh Mertz.
For tickets ($18-$26) and information on The Rainmaker at American Stage, 211 Third St. South in St. Petersburg, call (813) 822 8814.
-- By David Lefkowitz