Photo by Don Kellogg

Thursday, June 7, 2007

110 In the Shade

For those that do not know (like me), this is the musical version of the play The Rainmaker. Although a bit dated, not stale. Audra McDonald plays Lizzie Curry, the middle aged woman who is too smart, honest, and plain for the likings of most of the men in her era - 1936 in the Texas Panhandle. A con man, Starbuck, comes to town (the rainmaker) in the dead heat of the summer and promises to make it rain (Steve Kazee). But what he does instead is to stir up the emotions and passions in the town and awaken dormant love.

H.C. Curry - Lizzie's caring and doting southern father is played by the delightful John Culum. Her two brothers are played by Chris Butler (Noah) and the incredibly adorable Bobby Steggert (Jimmy).

I must say that the musical seemed a bit "forced". Music popping up here and there without an overriding consistency and cohesiveness. And visually, i was not always connecting with the idea of family given the mixed race cast. I know I was supposed to look beyond that into the story, the art and music, but it was a constant visual disconnect that I kept coming back to.

Audra also seemed to struggle with her powerhouse classical voice (it is one of the best there is!) juxtaposed against the need for a plain and poor southern accent Lizzie's character required. One of the biggest delights of the evening was indeed her amusing rendition of Raunchy.

Audra is an extremely talented young woman and certainly deserves a Tony nod for this performance, but i just don't think this show is a vehicle for her to win in 2007.