Sonoma Arts Live opens ‘The Rainmaker’

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‘The rainmaker’

When: October 20 to 29

Where: Sonoma Community Center, Rotary Stage

Cost: Free for first responders; and $22 to $37 general admission

Information: sonomaartslive.org/showtickets/

A story about hope and despair in a time of peril, “The Rainmaker,” debuting at Sonoma Arts Live this weekend, could not come at a more perfect time for Sonomans.

With fires ravaging Sonoma and Napa Valleys, this romantic comedy tells an important story about faith and dreams in a time of desperation. Even before the fires, director Patrick Nims said the play holds a special place in his heart.

“‘The Rainmaker’ is the story of a land in a time of scorching drought; both physical and spiritual. Both are life threatening,” Nims said. “‘The Rainmaker’ also demonstrates that there are cycles to everything, and after the dark, there will be light. Nothing is forever, not life, love or droughts. It is a celebration of small but persistent faith, of the wisdom of accumulated years, and the the passion of youth.”

The story was written by N. Richard Nash in the early 1950s and is set in the West in the 1920s. The play focuses on one family during the span of 24 hours, while the state is being ravished by the summer drought. The daughter, Lizzie Curry, is currently facing her own calamity as an unmarried young woman, something even her father and brothers worry about more than their ranch. Along comes a mysterious guest named Bill Starbuck who offers to help bring rain to the farm, at a price of course. Meanwhile, he also has an affect on Lizzie.

Artistic Director Jaime Love believes this story is perfectly relevant for the locals right now.

“Couldn’t we all use a little romance in our lives right about now? Come dream, come laugh, come shed a tear or two over this beautiful romance,” Love said.

“The actors and crew of ‘The Rainmaker’ have been amazingly resilient,” she added. On Oct. 15, they gathered in Novato to do a read-through of the play... only to be disbanded by the sounds of fire engines and a rogue fire sprouting up directly behind their borrowed rehearsal studio. At the end of last week, props and costumes were evacuated from the dark theater and delivered to Libby Oberlin’s Theater School for a dress rehearsal.

“People should see this play because, as Nash wrote, ‘The world has gone completely out of its mind,’” said Nick Moore, who plays Jim Curry. “This play gives us hope that in any time of great difficulty we need to grab onto any amount of hope we can get in order to maintain our solidarity and face any troubles that confront us.”

Adds Moore: “I believe The Rainmaker is about faith. It is about believing in something whole-heartedly even when the odds are against you. It’s about having faith in your dreams no matter how impossible they may seem.”

The play stars local Abbey Lee as Lizzie Curry. Lee is excited to return to the stage where she first performed in 1997 as Susan in “Miracle on 34th Street.” Lee grew up in Sonoma before attending the University of San Francisco. She continues to perform around the North Bay. Her “brothers” will be played by Nick Gallagher and Moore and the titular Rainmaker, or Bill Starbuck, will be played by Tyler McKenna. Other North Bay actors will include Matthew Loewenstein as File, Rick Love as Sheriff Thomas and Montgomery Paulsen as H.C. Curry.

“What I love about this play is the beauty of it. Every character in this play is beautiful. Even in moments of extreme emotional tension Nash’s writing maintains an elegance that makes this script so captivating,” Moore said. “In a time like this it is so important that we have faith in each other. The family in this play is one of the most sincere and loving families ever to be brought to the stage. I think it is important that we emulate this love during these times of trouble.”

The show will run on Oct. 20, 21, 22, 27, 28 and 29 with performances at 7:30 p.m. every day plus matinees on the weekends at 2 p.m. Performances are in Andrews Hall in the Sonoma Community Center.

‘The rainmaker’

When: October 20 to 29

Where: Sonoma Community Center, Rotary Stage

Cost: Free for first responders; and $22 to $37 general admission

Information: sonomaartslive.org/showtickets/

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