110 in the Shade at Palm Beach Dramaworks

110 in the Shade at Palm Beach Dramaworks

View from the Harvey - Weekly column by Sandra Schulman, arts writer, music and film producer.

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Cooper-Grodin,-Nick-Duckart,-&-Lauren-Bell-rehearsing-110-in-the-Shade
Cooper-Grodin, Nick Duckart, and Lauren Bell rehearsing 110 in the Shade

On the heels of the highly successful A Little Night Music production, Dramaworks premiered 110 in the Shade on August 14th a richly evocative and touching musical about desperation, desire, and hope. The show runs through August 30th with music by Harvey Schmidt, lyrics by Tom Jones, and a book by N. Richard Nash based on his play The Rainmaker.

Director Clive Cholerton said in a phone interview “This will be presented in a similar way that we did the last musical, a way to tell the story simply by allowing the music and lyrics to do the telling. There will be simple props like chairs and benches. There will be screen projection backdrops that move the time and place along visually as added elements.”

110 in the Shade takes place in a sun-baked, Southwestern town in the 1930s, where the local populace is desperately in need of drenching rain relief from a drought, and a lonely young woman named Lizzie Curry is terrified that she’s going to wind up, as one of the songs goes, an “Old Maid.”

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Enter Starbuck, a charismatic con man and self-proclaimed rainmaker, who convinces the townspeople that he can make the skies open within 24 hours, and enables Lizzie to see herself in a new light.

“The musicians will be onstage but off to the side,” Cholerton says. “There are dances with full choreography by Michelle Petrucci. It’s a fully staged version though we have had limited rehearsal time. The cast will have scripts with them is they need them. There is speaking sections then the songs kick in when it builds to a needed point.”

The production stars Jessica Hershberg, last season’s Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella, as Lizzie; William Parry, who had the title role in the 2014 concert production of Zorba!, as Lizzie’s father, H.C. Curry; Cooper Grodin, who recently played the title role in a national tour of Phantom of the Opera, as Starbuck; and Shane R.Tanner, Herman in Fella, as File, the emotionally damaged sheriff who is in love with Lizzie.

Schmidt and Jones, composer and lyricist of The Fantasticks, were approached in the early 1950s about the possibility of making a musical version of The Rainmaker after its success as a book. Schmidt and Jones wrote a total of 114 songs prior to the Broadway opening; roughly 16 ended up in the show. When  110 in the Shade was staged at Signature Theatre, they reinstated the lovely “Evenin’ Star” for Starbuck, a song that reveals another side of his character. They also wrote a new number, “You Gotta Get a Man,” in which Lizzie explains why she won’t play games in order to land a husband.

The play opened on Broadway in 1954 with Geraldine Page as Lizzie and Darren McGavin as Starbuck, and was made into a film two years later with Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster assuming those roles.

110 in the Shade opened on Broadway on October 23,1963, and ran for 330 performances. An intimate musical with a haunting score, the show did not receive its due during its initial run. But subsequent productions – at New York City Opera in 1992, Virginia’s Signature Theatre in 2003, and a 2007 Broadway revival starring Audra McDonald – have enhanced the show’s reputation, and revealed it to be a jewel of a musical.

“There are gorgeous songs here,” says Cholerton, “though it yielded no radio hits. It has the three things that make a great musical – memorable songs, a feel good story, and real heartfelt characters the audience roots for. It’s perfect for August in Florida.”

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About the production

Jessica Hershberg
Jessica Hershberg

PBD’s production stars Jessica Hershberg, last season’s Rosabella in The Most Happy Fella, as Lizzie; William Parry, who had the title role in the 2014 concert production of Zorba!, as Lizzie’s father, H.C. Curry; Cooper Grodin, who recently played the title role in a national tour of Phantom of the Opera, as Starbuck; and Shane R.Tanner, Herman in Fella, as File, the emotionally damaged sheriff who is in love with Lizzie. The cast also features Clay Cartland, Nick Duckart, Stephanie White, Lauren Bell, Nikki Allred Boyd, Chris Brand, Alex Jorth, and Matthew Korinko. Scenic design is by Dustin Hamilton, costume design is by Linda C. Shorrock, lighting design is by Thomas Shorrock, and sound design is by Richard Szczublewski.

It was Nash who approached Schmidt and Jones, composer and lyricist of The Fantasticks, about the possibility of making a musical version of The Rainmaker. The play opened on Broadway in 1954 with Geraldine Page as Lizzie and Darren McGavin as Starbuck, and was made into a film two years later with Katharine Hepburn and Burt Lancaster assuming those roles. Both Schmidt and Jones were fans of the piece, and were happy to sign on.

William Parry
William Parry

110 in the Shade opened on Broadway on October 23,1963, and ran for 330 performances. An intimate musical with a haunting score, the show did not receive its due during its initial run. But subsequent productions – at New York City Opera in 1992, Virginia’s Signature Theatre in 2003, and a 2007 Broadway revival starring Audra McDonald – have burnished the show’s reputation, and revealed it to be a jewel of a musical.

Schmidt and Jones wrote a total of 114 songs prior to the Broadway opening; roughly 16 ended up in the show. When 110 in the Shade was staged at Signature Theatre, they reinstated the lovely “Evenin’ Star” for Starbuck, a song that reveals another side of his character. They also wrote a new number, “You Gotta Get a Man,” in which Lizzie explains why she won’t play games in order to land a husband. PBD will be presenting this revised version.

Grodin
Cooper Grodin, who recently played the title role in a national tour of Phantom of the Opera, as Starbuck

All musical concerts are performed with limited instrumental accompaniment and minimal staging and design. These full-length presentations include both the score and the book.

Palm Beach Dramaworks is a non-profit, professional theatre and is a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the South Florida Theatre League, Southeastern Theatre Conference, Florida Professional Theatres Association, Florida Theatre Conference, and the Palm Beach County Cultural Council.

110 in the Shade will play 14 performances, including a specially priced preview on Thursday, August 13. Evening performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8pm and Sundays at 7PM; matinees are Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 2PM. All tickets are $42.
The Don & Ann Brown Theatre
is located in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, at 201 Clematis Street. For ticket information contact the box office at (561) 514-4042 Ext. 2, or visit www.palmbeachdramaworks.org. Summer box office hours are 10AM to 5PM Monday through Friday. During the run of a production the box office opens at 10AM Monday through Saturday and 11AM Sunday and stays open through intermission.

Sandra-Schulman Sandra Schulman is an arts writer, music and film producer. Born in Miami, her work has appeared in Billboard, Variety, Rolling Stone, Ocean Drive, Country Music Magazine, The New York Daily News, News From Indian Country, and Entertainment Weekly. She was an entertainment columnist for the South Florida Sun-Sentinel for 8 years. She has authored three books on pop culture. She currently lives in West Palm Beach with her blue eyed whippet. Sandra Schulman’s column appears weekly. Contact her at sandraslink@gmail.com.

110 in the Shade Opens at Palm Beach Dramaworks, a richly evocative and touching musical about desperation, desire, and hope. Check Hours & Ticket Info

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