THE STARS SHINE AND THE RAIN COMES
CA - There are big musicals that sing out bold and brassy like "The Music Man" and "Oklahoma," Then there are musicals like a summer rain that come up quick, and cool everything off making it all new for a little while. 110 In The Shade is that kind of cool breeze musical that has, as it's only intent, a conspiratorial notion that most of us live looking at life "real" and practical and that we could all use a little fantasy and a little dreaming now and then, because the truth of what's real and what's not lies somewhere in between it all.
The Pasadena Playhouse has given us a night of looking at the stars and dreaming dreams and has included a big dose of "Real," in it's current production of this classic musical that originally opened over 40 years ago. The show is based on Richard Nash's play, The Rainmaker, and was created by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, the team that gave us "The fantastics" and "I Do, I Do".
The Set for "110 In the Shade" (designed by Roy Christopher) seemingly stretches to the horizon and as soon as we enter we are given the feel of a vast wide open prairie full of expectation and potential.
The show itself starts in the middle of a heat-wave, every person in the town longing for some sign that the weather and their lives might change for the better. A few of the cast were right there as the audience came in and joined the ensemble in Gonna Be Another Hot Day that set the mood and let the audience know that they were in good hands.
From the moment Adam Wylie (Jimmy Curry), Tom Wilson (Noah Curry) and Lyle Kanouse (H.C. Curry) start in to talkin about their Lizzy coming home we believed it. The Actors, especially Wylie, each had character's that were drawn bright and clear as people we all know or would like to know. And when Marin Mazzie stepped on stage as Lizzy Curry we felt the family love and her lonliness all at once. In Love Don't Turn Away, Mazzie shows her hope for what she has inside and sings with soaring precesion and empathy. As her brothers start their scheming to get Lizzy hitched we are introduced to Ben Davis, as the divorced town sheriff File, who has his own dreams hidden away. Davis sings with a deep resonance and feeling that pulls an audience into his world and shows the vulnerability behind the facade.
As Starbuck, Jason Danieley is small in stature and does not really look the part of an enigmatic con man, but when he sings and the ensemble joins him in The Rain Song there is an explosive energy that is like a gathering storm itself, sweeping the townspeople up and into his pouring spell.
The entire cast is strong, both acting wise and musically, and they
continuously flesh out the plot and give a old fashioned spirit to the
piece. We feel like we are seeing the townspeople living and singing
and being real. It all translates and into feel of Homeniess and
feeling good. One of the ongoing highlights of the show is the
flat-out perfection of the sparks that fly between Adam Wylie as
Lizzie's younger brother Jimmy, and Alli Mauzey as Snookie Updegraff.
The two together are a delight. They prove to be skilled actors as
well as dancers and singers and they nearly stop the show with Little
110 in The Shade is a musical that is not frequently produced, as most
revivals revolve around the bigger draw musicals. But as the full
house at the playhouse the night of the reviewed performance can
attest, this is a sweet romantic musical revival that should not
missed! - Kevin Kindlin
110 In The Shade
from June 18 - July 25