Book by N. Richard Nash. Music by Harvey Schmidt. Lyrics by Tom Jones. Based on The Rainmaker by N. Richard Nash. The original Broadway production opened on 24 October 1963 and was directed by Joseph Anthony with choreography by Agnes de Mille, running for 330 performances.
Synopsis and Musical Numbers
One early morning, at the train station of a drought-stricken Western town, Sheriff File and his fellow townspeople realise that it is GONNA BE ANOTHER HOT DAY. Jim Curry arrives, expecting his sister, Lizzie, a plain-looking girl who had left town hoping to find a husband, on the morning train. He is joined by their older brother, Noah, and their father, HC (LIZZIE’S COMIN’ HOME). Lizzie arrives and confesses that her trip didn’t work out. She met lots of eligible men, but none that would lead her to a suitable marriage. Her brothers and father decide to try another plan: they’ll invite Sheriff File, the town’s most eligible bachelor, to the annual picnic. Lizzie, who likes File, is embarrassed but hopes he will consider their offer (LOVE, DON’T TURN AWAY).
In File’s office, the men try to lure the sheriff to the picnic but, realizing they are planning a match, he refuses (POKER POLKA). H.C. accuses File of having a chip on his shoulder because his first wife ran out. File attempts to deny their accusations but H.C. forces him to realize the whole town knows the truth. Meanwhile, at the park, Lizzie, expecting File, joins in the picnic preparations (HUNGRY MEN). She becomes angry and hurt when she learns he is not coming but attempts to cover her disappointment by pretending nothing is wrong. Out of nowhere,a stranger, the strong, virile and energetic Bill Starbuck, suddenly appears and announces that he’s a Rainmaker. For the modest fee of $100 dollars, he will end the drought and cause the rain to fall (RAIN SONG). Although Lizzie and Noah urge their father not to risk his money, H.C. gives Starbuck $100 and lodging in exchange for rainy weather in 24 hours.
A crowd gathers around Starbuck’s wagon and he begins giving direction: Jimmy is to beat a drum when he gets the feeling, H.C. is supposed to point an arrow with a special white point and Noah is to tie the hind legs of a mule together. Lizzie is infuriated that her family is going along but H.C. tells her one must take a chance in life without any fear. Starbuck is impressed by H.C.’s confidence and promises he will get his money’s worth. After everyone leaves Lizzie accuses Starbuck of being a con man, and he accuses her of not being a woman (YOU’RE NOT FOOLIN’ ME). Starbuck leaves a shattered Lizzie who quietly re-thinks his words. She turns to her father for comfort, asking him how she can transform herself into a “real woman”. He scoffs but she is serious and begins parodying the various sexy mindless girls around town (RAUNCHY). Meanwhile, Starbuck’s influence has also begun to affect Jimmy, who realizes he isn’t as dumb as Noah makes him believe.
Suddenly, File arrives at the picnic. He confesses to Lizzie that he is not a widower, as he has been saying, but a divorced man. Lizzie shows him that relationships need not be ugly and bitter (A MAN AND A WOMAN). File is unconvinced and, when she discovers File’s pride wouldn’t let him ask his wife to stay, Lizzie calls him a fool. Although she is immediately sorry, it’s too late: File rushes off in anger. When her family question her about what happened, they begin to argue and Noah tells Lizzie she is plain, leaving her to ponder whether she will be an OLD MAID.
Later, at the picnic pavilion, the townspeople dance and celebrate (EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL HAPPENS AT NIGHT). Lizzie goes to Starbuck’s wagon. He tries to persuade her to adopt a marvellous name, a new image and a dream to go with it (MELISANDE). But Lizzie explains that her dreams are all of SIMPLE LITTLE THINGS. Starbuck tries to convince her that she is pretty: someday she’ll see it in the eyes of the man who loves her. Starbuck kisses her and suddenly Lizzie realises that she is beautiful – and that she is being wooed by two attractive men.
Elsewhere, Noah and H.C. search for Jimmy. When they fine him, Jimmy reveals that he has spent the night with his girlfriend, Snookie, whom Noah considers ditsy and conniving. But Jimmy and Snookie describe the innocence of their evening together (LITTLE RED HAT). File interrupts to question them about Starbuck’s whereabouts but they feign ignorance and File leaves to search elsewhere. Noah reproaches H.C. who tells him it is important to Lizzie to be with a man who can make her feel important – even if it is only for one night. Back at Starbuck’s wagon, Lizzie asks Bill if she has changed (IS IT REALLY ME). Starbuck confesses to Lizzie that he is a con man and a fake – he has never made rain in his life and he would like to stay with Lizzie and try living in the real world. At that moment, File appears with a warrant for Starbuck’s arrest. But File is persuaded by all to let Starbuck get away (WONDERFUL MUSIC). Starbuck begs Lizzie to flee with him. File realises at last that he loves her and asks her to stay with him. Lizzie decides to stay with File. Suddenly, miracle of miracles, the rains come. For the first time Starbuck’s miracle has worked and the long drought is over (FINALE).
Purchases from Amazon.com
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: 1. 110 in the Shade Original Broadway Cast Recording CD. 2. 110 in the Shade Complete Studio Cast Recording CD. 3. 110 in the Shade 2007 Broadway Revival Cast. 4. 110 in the Shade Vocal Selections. 5. The Rainmaker play on Audio CD.