The catalyst of the 2013-14 season for the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre is a dramatic play, The Rainmaker. Though a strong drama there are several moments of laugh-out-loud humor to break the tension. Written by N. Richard Nash and directed by Karen Paisley this is the story of a Kansas family in the middle of a drought. It is not only a tale of a drought caused by lack of rain, but also a drought on relationships for members of the family.
The Rainmaker opened in 1954 at the Cort Theater in New York and ran for 125 performances and in 1956 was made into a movie starring Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn. Later a musical score was added and the play was revived as 110 in the Shade starring Woody Harrelson and Jayne Atkinson (the role earned her the 2000 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play).
Jessalyn Kincaid portrays Lizzy Curry, a spinster who the family desperately would like to see get married. Kincaid is spectacular in the role, taking the character from one with little self-esteem, to a woman who discovers she is not only filled with inner beauty but also physical beauty. Whether delivering a serious line or causing the audience to break-up with laughter, she is ideal for the role.
Jim Curry, played by Kyle Dyck, is the younger brother who is about to have a fling with what his brother describes as the town floozy. Dyck does an excellent job as the angry young man who wants a relationship for himself and his sister. His performance comes across as very natural and genuine.
A drifter has arrived at the Curry residence claiming he can bring rain within 24 hours. The drifter is Bill Starbuck, played by Forrest Attaway. It is Starbuck that brings Lizzie to the realization that she is not plain as her brother Noah repeatedly tells her. Attaway has been seen in productions all around town, but this is one of the finest performances he has given.
The performances of Scott Cordes as H. C. Curry, Jason Miller as Noah Curry, Bob Paisley as Sherriff Thomas and Tim Ahlenius as File are all well-conceived and add to the authenticity of the production. Each adds their own flare to the characters to bring them to life and transport the audience to an era gone by.
The Rainmaker continues at the Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre through Oct. 6.