Though The Rainmaker is a latter-day Western, its drama is about love and learning to believe in yourself, rather than a battle between right and wrong. The story begins during a drought and heat wave. We meet a patriarchal rancher who has two sons as well as a daughter of marriageable age. She’s very intelligent, but shy, and she’s been told she’s plain. The father is looking for a way to get her past this perception.
Unexpectedly, a handsome stranger wanders into town with the dubious claim that he can bring rain if he’s paid $100. The stranger is obviously a con man, but he’s also a dreamer, and a dreamer is what’s needed to break up the stalled relationships in the rancher’s household.
The Rainmaker dates from the 1950s, and some of its language is a tad dated. But the story—dealing with overcoming entrenched negative relationships and allowing yourself to take a chance on romance—feels contemporary. When the long drought (a lack of rain and a lack of love) finally breaks, everyone feels the lift.
This production by Main Street Theatre Works benefits from its pretty outdoor venue at the Kennedy Mine Amphitheatre, complete with chirping crickets; a starry sky; and a big, attractive set. But it’s the acting that closes the deal—especially Michael Claudio as the dubious but charming “rainmaker.” It’s yet another impressive performance by this versatile young actor. Dale Lisa Flint is steady and sure, and ultimately quite attractive as the “plain Jane” daughter who comes out of her shell. David Campfield, with his spontaneous grin, is also a solid addition as her impulsive younger brother, while Dean Shellenberger is memorably dour and joyless as the older brother. Veteran community actor Ken Nitschke (almost unrecognizable in comparison with some past roles) is effective in a small role as the local sheriff. Susan McCandless directs and gives the production—which is set entirely indoors, though it’s performed outdoors—a sense of spaciousness that suits the West.