Everything's Beautiful In Monomoy's '110 In The Shade'

By: Joan Aucoin

Topics: Local Theater

"110 In The Shade" is at Monomoy Theatre.  COURTESY PHOTO

Monomoy Theater Company under Francesca James' engaging direction sizzles in delightful, harmonious musicality retelling Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones' fetching tale, "110 in the Shade".

Gonna be another hot day in a grassy, Western prairie town, home to the Curry family.  The drought has set in on the plains while impacting more than a few hearts.  H.C. Curry is deeply worried for his unmarried daughter Lizzie.  Companionless, indifferent to men, Lizzie's "to hell with all of them" attitude is her personal shield protecting her private yearning for love to not pass her by. Handsome Sheriff File wears his official shield under a masquerade as the town chief protector and widower.

Lizzie's brothers Noah and Jimmy join H. C. and File fretting and strutting to an all-guy "Poker Polka.”  Where there's doubt, it's always a dry season.  If only it would rain, the whole town would pour into the streets and celebrate to a Picnic Day.

Enter Starbuck, that crazy as a bed bug, take a chance on a con man, rainmaker.  What kind of rain would you like?  H.C. gladly forks over the $100 with hopes that Starbuck will end the drought and also free Lizzie's wings to fly like a beautiful firefly at night!

First produced in 1963, this Tony award-winning musical, based on the book "The Rainmaker" by N. Richard Nash, Monomoys' production is an irresistible offering for the whole family.  Ralph Perkins' cowboy two-steps, polkas, and even a waltz is set to Phil Rittner's wonderful music merriment.  "110 in the Shade" is a must see!

Artistic Director Alan Rust is such a natural on-stage as father figure H.C. Curry who sets the story in motion.  Sarah Killough, guest Equity actress, plays daughter Lizzie as a flaming red-haired,
stubborn, independent woman who needs no advice from any man, until she meets the charming rainmaker.  Gregory Rodriguez plays Starbuck with poise, strength, allure and in fabulous voice.  The pair go head-to-head in "You're Not Foolin' Me".  By Act Two, Starbuck performs magic while portraying Lizzie as a golden Greek Goddess in "Melisande".    Sheriff File joins "Wonderful Music" in a trio of keenly felt life choices.  John Noble Barrack's File is intensely felt by the audience, and strong voice, too.

Laura Axelrod's lovable Snookie joins Wolfe Lanier's comical brother Jimmy in an adorable "Little Red Hat" number.  Daniel Owens' serious brother Noah makes for an admirable side-kick to Rust's worrisome H.C. A talented cast of townspeople rounds out the old-fashioned, small-town neighbors helping neighbors touch.

Hallelujah, you know the rain will fall in a happily-ever-ending old-fashioned story.  Ethan Jone's lightning and lanterns accentuate Dylan Bollinger's sounds of weather and prairie.  Braden Hooter's authentic barn and covered wagon set design places the Friends of Monomoy Theater Orchestra up in the rafters for their lovely musical accompaniment.

From "Raunchy" cowboy twangs to my favorite "Everything Beautiful Happens at Night,” "110 in the Shade" is a triumphant victory of optimism and faith over loneliness and a solitary life.  "Dear God, don't let me live and die alone!" Amen.