Lakewood Playhouse’s production of N. Richard Nash’s “Rainmaker” brought what it promised to deliver. It rained. The thunder of the great performances and the creatively simple set design added to the fun.
The Depression-era show plays out on a Midwest ranch desperately in need of rain at a time when a wandering conman just happens to stop by with an offer of bringing some of that life-saving, cloud-based moisture for $100. The water-bringer, Starbuck (Bruce Story), brings more than that. He also manages to pair up the middle-aged farmer’s daughter (Tanya Barber) with the town’s deputy (Jed Slaughter) after convincing her that her self-destined spinster future didn’t have to come true.
While Barber, Story and Slaughter bring their heavy gravy of special acting sauce, the true strength of the show comes from the balance of the cast, including: Elliot Weiner, Mason Quinn, Jacob Tice and Ernie Heller. With audience members on three sides so no actor was ever in the background and nuances counted, they brought all they had.
With little space to change sets, the L-shaped stage simply had the farmhouse’s living room on one side and the sheriff’s office on the other. Subtle light changes shifted eyes from one side to the other as a way to keep the Casi Wilkerson-directed show moving without set-changing downtime.
Although the closing moments of the show brought rain to the set, that stage trick should have been played up rather than largely hidden off stage. Audiences saw some water drops and heard the pitter-patter of the “rain” as it hit the off-stage roof, but seeing more of that would have been pretty cool with a few adjustments. But heck, I’m just nit-picking.
This production contains some fisticuffs and mature language, so parents are advise that it might not be appropriate or entertaining for younger children. “Rainmaker” runs at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays through May 12, with special showings at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 25 and May 2. Tickets are $24 with student and military discounts.
The theatre is located within the Lakewood Towne Center, 5729 Lakewood Towne Center Blvd. Contact (253) 588-0042 or lakewoodplayhouse.org.