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Rainmaker captures humor and drama of drought-ravaged 1930s-era family

SHELBURNE The Shelburne Players production of The Rainmaker is a triumph of spot-on casting, actors who are completely at ease in their characterizations, a set design that focuses the action from scene to scene, and a story set in the 1930s with a message that is totally modern, once you get past the premise of the play that a bright but plain girl is doomed to spinsterhood. The Curry family is losing its battle with a drought that is gripping the countryside, cattle are dying and there is no place for hope. Add to that the concern of father H. C. Curry (Mark Patnoe), and brothers Noah (Ed Roberts) and Jimmy (Patrick Tracy) about Lizzie Curry (Carly Bennett) and her lack of success in finding a husband. Their attempts to rectify the situation are very unsubtle, arranging a trip to visit relatives with lots of marriageable sons, and then inviting the deputy sheriff File (Nat Bacon) to supper. The unexpected arrival of Starbuck (G. Richard Ames) promises a solution to all the problems: he claims to be able to make rain and for only $100 will guarantee a rainstorm, of the size they specify, within 24 hours, and he also breaks down Lizzies skepticism while building up her confidence in herself. Seven excellent performances and the smooth direction of Joe Dye, make this a real pleasure to watch. Patnoe is a loving father, Roberts is a bitter older brother, Tracy earned lots of laughs with his comedic sense and physical humor, Carly was convincing in her awkward shyness and subsequent blossoming, Carmody was the quintessential small town sheriff, and Bacon mastered the challenge of revealing the secret that has kept him alone and unwilling to reach out for love. And G. Richard Ames found a tour de force in the role of the flim-flam man Starbuck strutting, posturing, patently a con man, but capturing the trust of those around him. The sets for Shelburne Players productions are more creative and ingenious with every production. In The Rainmaker designer Anne Pardee has defined three areas: the family kitchen, the sheriffs office and the tackroom, by placing them at different levels. And the sound effects and special effects outside the kitchen windows are very effective. The good news is that there are performances of The Rainmaker at 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 and Saturday, Nov. 17 at the Shelburne Town Center. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. To order in advance call 985-0780.

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