CENTERVILLE — Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker is more or less what you would get if you put Harold Hill in rural 1929, and took away the music and the ensemble. Like The Music Man, it is charming and heartfelt, and I’m not quite sure why anyone would choose to produce it in 2021 over so many other plays available.
The story revolves around a small family farm dealing with drought and trying to marry off the children, when a charismatic con man calling himself the Rainmaker shows up, promising rain and good fortune for only the small price of $100. Centerpoint Legacy Theatre’s production is relevant to the Davis County area, which is so plagued with both MLM’s and drought. The production was sweet, and any problems I had stemmed from the script.
As in most shows, the first glimpse of the show the audience gets is from the set, designed in this case by Hugh Hanson and Brian Hahn. This set shows the Curry family’s simple yet sharp lifestyle with a comfy-looking living room set. I did spend a portion of the show wondering if it could have all been shifted just a bit upstage, instead of being so close to the audience, although being so close let me have a bit of extra light to see my notepad with, which was very welcome. Derek Walden’s lighting design added a nice tone to the story, and his sound design, which included some choice pre-show and intermission songs, fit the play well.
Kennedy Miller’s costume design was quite possibly my favorite part of the show; Lizzie’s dress at the beginning was the first thing that really tied the show into country life in 1929. The color palette for the show, with the family in blues and tans, and the sheriff and deputy in tan uniforms, let the Rainmaker’s red jacket and orange vest really stand out from the rest and pinpoint him as someone different and important. It is one of many times I’ve seen a show and thought, “I’d like to get married in that outfit.”
As two of the main characters, Kate Williams’ Lizzie and Andrew Heyward’s Starbuck were both fantastic. I could feel them as real people making real choices, even if Lizzie’s decisions concerning men and marriage are a little outdated. And of course, Meish Roundy’s Jim stole the show with his loveable personality. One of the absolute best things I can say about the show is that I didn’t even notice their accents or the lack of mics until the very end of the show; there’s usually at least one actor you can’t quite hear, or who is trying their best to do a bad accent, but that was not the case here.
As previously mentioned, I had a lot of questions concerning the script, and throughout the show I kept telling myself to let it go; they can’t change the lines. But then, if there is so much wrong with the script, and so many questions it never answers, why choose to produce the play at all? I can’t answer that question, but I can say that for a production of The Rainmaker, it was enjoyable and absolutely worth watching.