Sept. 12--In the early 1950s, playwright N. Richard Nash wrote an unassuming drama about a spinster in the drought-plagued Midwest who sees herself in a new light after an encounter with a flimflam man who claims he can make it rain.
"The Rainmaker" became a Broadway hit in 1954 and later became a Hollywood film with Burt Lancaster and Katharine Hepburn. Now Metropolitan Ensemble Theatre turns to this vintage piece of Americana to open its 2013-14 season.
"I love this play," director Karen Paisley said. "I've been loving this play since I was in college. I think most women feel like Lizzy at some point in their lives. It did seem awfully hard when I was growing up to be a smart girl. I would have been far, far better off if I had been 5 foot 4, blond and dumb."
Lizzy, the play's central character, is on the verge of becoming an old maid, in part because her potential suitors find her wit and intelligence off-putting. Everything changes after Starbuck, a flimflam man who claims he can bring rain, blows into town.
The big news about this production is that Jessalyn Kincaid, one of Kansas City's most talented and popular actresses, is making her MET debut as Lizzy.
Kincaid, who for most of her career has been typed as a musical-comedy specialist, will now get to show what she can do in a straight drama. Kincaid had become almost a resident artist at the American Heartland Theatre, where she often stage-managed shows if she wasn't appearing onstage. But the Heartland is now closed. And Paisley has a history of casting actors against type.
Indeed, casting the charismatic Kincaid as a plain Jane seems like a tough sell at first glance. But then, that's why they call it "acting."
In "The Rainmaker," Kincaid will be paired with one of the city's best actors, Forrest Attaway, who plays Starbuck. The talented cast also includes Scott Cordes, Kyle Dyck, Jason Miller, Tim Ahlenius and Bob Paisley.
"The Rainmaker" runs through Oct. 6 at the MET, 3614 Main St. Call 816-569-3226 or go to METKC.org.
Arthur Kopit honored
Playwright Arthur Kopit, a four-time Tony nominee, will receive the William Inge Distinguished Achievement in the American Theatre Award at the annual William Inge Festival in Independence, Kan. The festival this year runs March 26-29. Events will take place at various locations, including Independence Community College.
Kopit's work is diverse and unpredictable. His plays include the absurdist "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling' So Sad" and the historical satire "Indians." Other notable works include the play "Wings" and the book for the musical "Nine."
For more information on the festival, call 800-842-6063, Ext. 5491, or go to IngeCenter.org.
To reach Robert Trussell, call 816-234-4765 or send email to email@example.com.
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