RAINMAKER Well Worth Seeing at Town and Country Players in Buckingham

by Jean and Bill Brenner

Pat Walsh as Starbuck and Stephanie Smith as Lizzie in Town and Country Players' THE RAINMAKER, running through May 28 in Buckingham, PA.

Few theatre audience members fully appreciate what role the show’s director plays. The theatre experience is determined by the many choices the director has made. First, the director hopes the right people will show up for auditions and from that pool of talent decides whom to cast in the various roles. Those choices are crucial to the heart of the show.

Next, the director must have a concept for the production: the set, the lighting, the costumes, music, everything that makes the theatre experience special.

Alana Caraccio, director of THE RAINMAKER by N. Richard Nash at Town and Country Players has made significant choices, all of which make the overall theatre-going experience a special one.

She has cast good actors in the seven principal roles. She and her capable producer, Sharon Rill, have assembled a crew of experienced people to design and build the sets, light the show, provide appropriate sound, assemble costumes and design make-up, and to enable the continuity needed for smooth set changes.

The pace of the show is brisk; the pauses are meaningful, and the show is entertaining and appealing. We are so happy to have seen it, and are happy to report that it is worth seeing!

The story is summarized by Caraccio this way: THE RAINMAKER by N. Richard Nash, concerns a young woman, Lizzie Curry, living in the Midwest, circa 1938, on a cattle ranch with her family comprised of her father, a younger and an older brother. A drought has caused hardship for the ranch and seems to extend into her personal life in the lack of the realization of her dreams for her own matrimony and family. Into this barren, arid plain and state of mind, comes a mysterious male, both con-artist and romantic rogue, who claims he can quench the thirst of the land and Lizzy’s heart at the same time. He is a Rainmaker!”

Stephanie Smith plays the lead, Lizzie Curry. A fine actress, her wonderful facial expressions vividly reveal her emotions. We would like to have seen her be just a little less masculine from the outset. It seemed as if she were trying too hard to give herself a place to go when the story takes a romantic turn.

Starbuck, played by handsome, experienced actor Patrick Walsh, was very much into the major role. However, he often sounded too abrupt and angry in his delivery. We wished him to be smoother, more fluid, and especially, more seductive. For a family to trust him, Starbuck needs to try to seduce everyone, not just Lizzie.

Keith Soester as Lizzie’s father, H. C. Curry, portrays a kind man, one who cares deeply about his daughter and sometimes wonders where he made mistakes, considering how different are his offspring. Soester is believable and compassionate as he tries to find a future for his spinster daughter whom he loves, while dealing with a cantankerous older son, Noah, played by Tim Tolen.

Noah is always angry. The drought has made him angry; the books he keeps for the ranch make him angry; his younger brother makes him angry. Noah has no dreams. He is practical and mostly sullen and miserable. There was no glimmer of kindness in Noah as Tolen played him. He was simply an angry, mean person.

Then, there is Fred Conover, Jr., the younger brother, Jim. Jim is not mean; he is not sullen. He is happy and positive. He wants to beat the drum to bring rain as Starbuck asks; he wants to have fun and be in love with girlfriend Snookie. Jim is, quite simply, irrepressible. Fred, just 14 years old, plays the role of a happy 17 year old as though he had been acting for years, which he has not, having played only small roles and worked back stage at T & C. We predict good things for Fred!

Marc Schule plays Deputy Sheriff File. An experience actor with a long list of credits, Marc delivers a credible performance, but he, too, could lighten up. He looks and behaves angry for much of the play. He could be more likeable.

Finally, there is veteran actor John Pinto who never disappoints an audience as once again he handles the Sheriff’s role with believability.

Our opinion is that individual face mikes were unnecessary. It’s a small theatre, and all of the performers had good projection. The mikes got in the way. However, that, too, was a director’s choice, and there must have been a reason Caraccio miked the performers.

It is important to note the people behind the scenes for their good work: C. Jameson Bradley designed while he and Joseph Perignat built the practical and interesting open set which Barbara Emch painted. Walter Hauck designed and executed lighting; Ken Weigert designed and managed sound; Sharon Rill handled the hefty job of producing while Jen Pecherek was stage manager assisted by Anne Romanowski and crew member, Danielle Malat. Always creative Richard Jastrzebski designed costumes and make-up.

THE RAINMAKER is a good play, well-worth your seeing. It plays weekends through May 28, evenings at 8 PM, and a 3 PM matinee on May 22. Tickets are available at the door or through Brown Paper Tickets. Visit the website: www.TownandCountry.org for additional information.

by N. Richard Nash
Directed by Alana Caraccio
May 13 – 28, 2011
Town and Country Players
4158 York Road
Buckingham, PA 18912
(800) 838-3006

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