BWW Review: THE RAINMAKER at The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ is a Beautiful and Enthralling Play
"Once in your life, you have to take a chance on a con-man."
By Starbuck in The Rainmaker
The Rainmaker, a deeply touching play, is being performed through August 18 on the Mainstage of The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey (STNJ). Written by N. Richard Nash, the show is brilliantly directed by the Theatre's Artistic Director, Bonnie J. Monte. It features a cast of seven thespians that bring this beautiful tale to life on the Madison stage. You'll love every single minute of this gripping story that deftly combines humor, drama, and a lot of heart.
Set in the dustbowl of rural America, the play focuses on the Curry family, ranchers that are dealing with a drought that threatens their cattle. Their household includes the father, H.C., his sons, Noah and Jim, and his daughter, Lizzy. In addition to the family's concerns about the future of the ranch, there are worries about Lizzy who some believe is destined to be an old maid. H.C. and his sons even attempt to set her up with Sheriff Thomas' lonesome deputy, File. Enter Starbuck, a clever swindler who proclaims he can make it rain if the Curry's pay him $100. In spite of Noah's objections, H.C. agrees to pay Starbuck who enlists the H.C., Noah, and Jim in seemingly silly maneuvers to bring rain. The play contrasts individuals who are dreamers to those that are tethered to concrete realities. Yet, there are surprises in store for all.
The cast is performance perfection. Monette Magrath will steal your heart as Lizzie Curry, a bright woman who lacks social confidence but longs for companionship. Mark Elliot Wilson captures the role of H.C. Curry, a loving, dedicated father and the family patriarch. Benjamin Eakeley is ideal as serious minded, sensible Noah Curray. Isaac Hickox-Young does a top job of portraying the exuberant character of Jim Curry. Nick Plakias masters the easy-going character of Sheriff Thomas who contrasts with his earnest deputy, File superbly depicted by Corey Sorenson. Anthony Marble commands the stage as the colorful, dramatic character, Starbuck.
Entertaining scenes abound in The Rainmaker. Moments that include H.C., Noah, and Jim inviting File to dinner; Jim telling his family about meeting his girlfriend, Snookie at a town dance; Sheriff Thomas offering File a dog to keep him company; Lizzy preparing dinner ready in hopes of having a guest; Starbuck arriving to the Curry household with wild proclamations about his abilities; the awkward visit between File and Lizzy at the Curry home; the touching encounter between Starbuck and Lizzy; and many more.
The Artistic Team has done a wonderful job of creating the setting for The Rainmaker. They include sound design by Steven L. Beckel; costume design by Hugh Hanson; lighting design by Matthew J. Weisgable; and scenic design by Bonnie J. Monte. The Production Stage Manager is Becky Abramowitz; Fight Consultant, Doug West; Assistant to the Director, Elliott Puckette; Fight Captain, Corey Sorenson; Assistants to the Stage Manager, Erin Collins and Devyn Tibbles.
The Rainmaker has an captivating, charming plot and characters with authentic personalities. It is part of the Theatre's 57th season entitled "Incredible Journeys." Bonnie J. Monte and her team have indeed selected a show for your summer entertainment that you will deem incredible. Get your tickets and enjoy!
The Rainmaker runs for 2 hours and 20 minutes with one 15-minute intermission. Patrons can purchase tickets at the F.M. Kirby Shakespeare Theatre Box Office located at 36 Madison Avenue in Madison, by calling the Box Office at 973.408.5600 or by visiting https://www.shakespearenj.org/.
Photo Credit: Joe Guerin