“The Rainmaker,” the classic play by N. Richard Nash is a story of love, desire and magic, set in the Dirty Thirties, more commonly known as “The Dust Bowl.” It was a time that people felt their world was falling apart, as a devastating drought coincided with expansion in the prairies and poor farming practices.
N. Richard Nash captured the essence of the time in the Curry family, whose farm, like all others around them, is devastated by a withering and persistent drought.
The Rainmaker Story
In “The Rainmaker,” the starring role is by Tanna Frederick, who plays Lizzie Currie, living on the family farm, in the Dust Bowl, with her brothers and father.
The main focus of the play is the fate of Lizzie. It is the 1930s and the Depression is biting hard. Lizzie takes care of the men in her house, but there is a gaping emptiness in her life. Lizzie wants a man of her own, and children.
Lizzie visits her cousins, in an attempt to find her man, but that fails, leaving her even more frustrated. Her family doesn’t help her, continually reminding her that she is “plain.” Lizzie believes it too, extending her fear of forever being the “maiden aunt.”
When Starbuck, a conman comes to town, a chain of events fires off. Played by Richard Standley, Starbuck announces he can bring the clouds and make it rain, but this miracle requires payment of a $100 fee.
Starbuck likes Lizzie and this is when things start to change. It turns out that Lizzie isn’t as plain as she thought.
Sometimes, ignoring reality, and dreaming instead, can make things change. Although we’re many years out of the 1930s depression, the moral of this story applies in many times and many places, and it can equally apply today.
A Popular Show
“The Rainmaker” premiered on Broadway in 1954, and was so inspiring and popular, that it has been translated into forty languages.
Besides Tanna Frederick and Robert Standley, the cast includes Benjamin Chamberlain, David Garver, Ralph Guzzo, Steve Howard and Scott Roberts. Presented by Henry Jaglom & The Rainbow Theater Company, in association with Edgemar Center for the Arts, the show is directed by Jack Heller and produced by Alexandra Guarnieri.
The Edgemar Center for the Arts is the latest scene for the play, opening December 6th. The Stage manager is Thomas Zoeschg, with Set Design by Chris Stone.
Sadly, Playwright N. Richard Nash, born in 1913, passed away in 2000. He was famous for his Broadway shows (“Wildcat,” “110 in the Shade,” “The Happy Time”) and also wrote for TV (two seasons as writer-developer of “Here Come The Brides”) and for the big screen (“Dragonfly,” “Porgy and Bess,” “Nora Prentiss”).
Tanna Frederick starring as Lizzie, previously starred in Nash’s play, “Echoes,” in Los Angeles, California. She has played in other shows at The Edgemar Center including, Claire Chafee’s “Why We Have a Body” (which she also directed). Prior to that, she had long runs as the title dog in A.R. Gurney’s “Sylvia,”and in two plays written by Henry Jaglom, “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway,” and “Always…But Not Forever.” Ms. Frederick has starred in several films directed by Jaglom including, “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway,” “Queen of the Lot,” “Hollywood Dreams,” and “Irene in Time.” A fifth film collaboration currently in the editing stage, “The M Word,” is to be released in 2013.
Robert Standley portrays Starbuck. Standley starred in the national tours of “The Rainmaker,” “Cotton Patch Gospel,” and his one-man show “According to Coyote.” He recently appeared in “Post Office” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. He won an Ovation Award for his performance in “Barbarians” and Outer Critics Circle Awards for “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Picnic.” He recurred in the TV series “Invasion,” “Melrose Place,” “All My Children” and “Breaking Through.” He appeared on film in “Turn of Faith,” “Ali,” “The gatherers,” “Deep Descent” and won a Best Actor award at Angel Citi Film Festival for his role in “Time Loves A Hero.”
Jack Heller directs “The Rainmaker.” He has directed over 60 productions in the U.S. and Canada, and also television (“Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”). Acclaimed as an actor, he appeared on Broadway in “Luv,” locally most recently in SST Productions’ “Tennessee in the Summer.” Previously, he was featured in “Queen of the Lot” and in both the stage and screen versions of “Just 45 Minutes From Broadway.”
In 1956, “The Rainmaker” was also made into a hugely successful film by director Joseph Anthony, starring Katharine Hepburn as Lizzie, and Burt Lancaster as Starbuck.
“The Rainmaker,” the classic romantic comedy, is playing at Edgemar Center for the Arts, on the Main Stage, 2437 Main Street, Santa Monica, CA 90405.
Shows run from December 6 to 16, 2012; and January 10 to March 24, 2013, on Thursday to Saturday at 7:30, and Sundays at 5:00.
Call (310) 392-7327 for tickets or online at www.edgemarcenter.org