One of my favorite 1950s movies is “The Rainmaker”, starring Katherine Hepburn as the dried-up, middle-aged spinster, Lizzie, and Burt Lancaster (at his sexiest) as the wanderer, Starbuck, who changes her life. The film and play upon which it was based were turned into a lovely Broadway musical decades ago: “110 In The Shade”.
The Actors Co-Op, housed at the Crossley Theater, in Hollywood, has given this show a wholly professional and rousing revival. While none of the music is particularly memorable (not one of us in my group recognized a single chord), it is utterly enjoyable, especially when rendered by such a high-quality cast. Director Richard Israel, choreographer Julie Hall and musical director Bryan Blaskie should be working on Broadway themselves (perhaps they already are?), if this production is any example of their creative abilities.
It is the actor/singer/dancers, however, that make “110 In The Shade” soar. I don’t know where Treva Tegtmeier (Lizzie) has been hiding (from me – her local awards prove I must be overlooking some great shows that she’s been in), but this is quite a woman. Not only can she sing like a belting angel, but her acting chops are just as formidable. When she expresses pain, or hope, or joy, everyone in the house feels it right along with her. All of it is in those soulful, beautiful eyes.
As Starbuck, Skylar Adams brings to the stage a wonderful strength and gentle sexiness, wrapped in a tall, rangy body. He moves very well and his singing, although not the strongest I’ve ever heard, is more than adequate for the role.
Lizzie’s all-male family is a terrific combination of warmly supportive of her dreams (Tim Hodgin as her father, the kind everyone should have), coldly dismissive of her attempts to find happiness (Jason Peter Kennedy as her oldest brother, Noah) and puppy-dog adoring of just about everything (David Crane as younger brother, Jimmy). Crane, in fact, is the true scene-stealer in this show. Between his uncontrollable grin, his lanky Ray Bolger-esque dancing, and his moments of sudden clear-sightedness and protectiveness of his sister, this is an actor to keep your eyes on down the road.
I wish I had time to mention every other principal by name, but there are too many fine performances here and time’s a-wastin’, I’m afeard. (By the way, the ensemble singers and dancers acquit themselves very professionally, too, and there are plenty of them.) All of us enjoyed every moment of this production and I, for one, wish I had time to re-visit it. Know what? Suddenly, a nice, tall, cool glass of lemonade is calling me.
– Kris Malone