Theater Review: Not So Plain In The Plain States

Photo: Josh Siegel

A befuddled and loving dad, H.C. Curry (Jeff Rossman, left) is the figurehead of a family trying to find love and companionship during a personal and environmental dry spell in The Rainmaker. His two sons, Noah (William H. Greenridge IV, second from right) and Jimmy (Thomas Ovitt, right), like their father, want to a mate for their adored yet “plain” sister Lizzie (Stacy-Lee Frome), who is on the brink of being an old maid. Performances by The Sherman Players continue weekends, plus one Thursday night, until August 10.

SHERMAN — They are family, working it out together in the plain states of America.  In The Sherman Playhouse production of N. Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker, a tale of good old fashion Americana is told with a light-hearted touch of humor and a deep sense of love, loyalty and commitment.

A befuddled and loving dad, H.C. Curry, played by Jeff Rossman, is the figurehead of a family of young adults trying to find love and companionship during a personal and environmental dry spell.  His two sons, Noah (William H. Greenridge IV) and Jimmy (Thomas Ovitt), are polar opposites, one serious and one silly. Both want a mate for their adored yet “plain” sister Lizzie (Stacy-Lee Frome), who is on the brink of being an old maid.

The only apparent eligible bachelor in town, Officer File (the actor Martimus), is once bitten and twice shy due to a previous marriage that ended with his wife running off. The Curry men try to fix him up with Lizzie. Sherriff Thomas (David Almquist) tries to fix him up with a stray dog.

File will have none of it, despite the fact that he secretly admires Lizzie and craves the comfort of an adoring pet. In the meantime, desperate for precipitation, the Curry family pays a stranger named Bill Starbuck (Alexis Vournazous), a snake oil salesman, hawking his rainmaking powers, to bring it on. 

All of these characters vacillate between conflict and concert as they make their way to a good, old-fashioned happy ending. The audience could expect nothing less.

The Rainmaker offers a glimpse into the Dust Bowl era and the struggle of those trying to persevere through the drought. The Curry family offers up a veritable cornucopia of wit, personality and food, which give color to the drab and depressing period.

Jeff Rossman is sincere as he grapples with the personalities and needs of his offspring. William Greenage IV and Thomas Ovitt operate as brothers as different as the day is long: Noah is serious and responsible; Jimmy is a bundle of optimism and playfulness as he bounces all over the stage. Martimus’s File, wounded by his wayward wife, is appropriately reserved and awkward.

David Almquist gives a droll delivery of the sheriff that charms and the Rainmaker himself, Alexis Vournazos is at turns both slick and sweet.

Stacy-Lee Frome conveys a resigned yet smart and passionate Lizzie.

With their disparate opinions of what is best for Lizzie and their circumstances, this family fights, loves and laughs together, taking the audience for an all American hayride.

The set offers a shabby yet comfy feel, which accommodates the Curry home, the police station and the tack room. The slamming screen door is the perfect punctuation for the interaction of this group of characters. The direction by Martin D. Rosato is steady and well-paced.

“She’s got the right to hope for anything,” claims H.C., and don’t we all.  Don’t miss this message of hope and happiness during a hard time.

(Performances continue through August 9 at The Sherman Playhouse, 5 Route 39 North in Sherman. Curtain is Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, with matinees on Sundays, July 27 and August 10, at 2 pm. 

NOTE: Due to the Sherman Fireman’s Ball on August 2, that performance of The Rainmaker has been cancelled. An additional performance has been added, however, on Thursday, July 31, also 8 pm.

Ticket and reservations for all shows is available at ShermanPlayers.org or 860-354-3622.)

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