To put things into perspective, when "110 in the Shade," the musical version of "The Rainmaker," premiered on Broadway, the "Camelot" vibe inspired by young President Kennedy was still flourishing.
We were not only a powerful nation, but we were a nation concerned with aesthetics. The Kennedy family attended plays, so we did. The family dressed well, and we tried. They hosted the world's finest musicians at the White House, and we, well, we did our best, buying original-cast albums and at least thinking about going to the ballet.
We all dreamed the American Dream, and we believed dreams could come true, which is why "110 in the Shade" arrived on Broadway at the right moment.
N. Richard Nash, author of "The Rainmaker," wrote the script. The music was by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones, who had created the smash off-Broadway hit "The Fantasticks," another show about dreamers.
Except for one grouchy review, the musical was well-received by critics, and it looked like the show, which had a tiny bit of a Rodgers and Hammerstein feel to it, was going to go forever.
A month later, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, and the national mood had little room for dreams coming true. "110 in the Shade" eventually closed after 330 performances (which, at the time, made it a hit, but not a smash).
However, it remains "truly a gem of a show," according to Susan Evans, artistic director of the Douglas Morrisson Theatre in Hayward, which is presenting the play beginning Nov. 15. Nancy McCullough Engle, who was the theater's artistic director for more than 30 years, returns to direct the musical, and Avi Jacobson, great-nephew of Nash, is in the cast of the show, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
The musical, like the play, is set in a small Southwestern farming region where it hasn't rained in a very long time. The sweaty, touchy and sometimes downright mean residents of the area are hoping, some praying, that something wet will come from the sky.
And, before you know it, a man named Starbuck arrives, announcing he's a rainmaker. But most believe he's a flimflam man who will take the money and run, leaving heartbroken ladies and thirsty cattle in his wake.
But charlatan or not, somehow most of the Curry family, sweltering on their cattle ranch, buy into the dream Starbuck preaches.
Pa Curry believes so much, he's willing to give Starbuck a chunk of the family fortune to do his rainmaking magic. And Lizzie Curry, who believes herself to be as close to being an old maid as it gets, is taken by the rainmaker, casting longing looks at him as he warms to her.
That's what brings them all outside in the middle of the night, to shout, chant and sing to summon the dream.
The musical plays in preview Nov. 14 and runs Nov. 15-Dec. 8 at in the Morrisson Theatre, 22311 N. Third St., Hayward. Tickets, at $10 for the preview and $21-$29 for the main run, may be reserved at 510-881-6777 or www.dmtonline.org.
"TROilUS AND CRESSIDA": Shakespeare's notorious tragedy (due to its wild fluctuations between dark comedy and bleak tragedy) comes to Berkeley's Impact Theatre, where the cast will do frequent battle with swords upon the tiny stage at La Val's Subterranean, 1834 Euclid Ave., Berkeley. The plays opens Nov. 9 and runs through Dec. 15. Tickets, at $10-$25, may be reserved at www.impacttheatre.com.
"A YEAR WITH FROG AND TOAD": Robert and Willie Reale's musical based on the children's stories by Arnold Lobel, opens Friday at Masquers Playhouse. The show is a fanciful series of tales about the happy-go-lucky Frog and his pal, the much more issue-ridden Toad. The tale follows their friendship through the four seasons of the year and chronicles their adventures. "Frog and Toad" runs through Dec. 7 in the theater at 105 Park Place in Point Richmond. Tickets, at $22, may be reserved at 510-232-4031 or www.masquers.org.
UPSIDE-DOWNTON ABBEY: Lamplighters Music Theatre's annual spoof production, done in a rollicking Gilbert and Sullivan style, plays 4 p.m. Nov. 10 at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts Theatre, 3301 Lyon St., and 4 p.m. Nov. 24 at the Mountain View Center for Performing Arts, 500 Castro St. The production spoofs TV's "Downton Abbey." The San Francisco show begins with a silent auction at 3 p.m. Tickets cost $35-$97; more information is at www.lamplighters.org.
Contact Pat Craig email@example.com.