There are moments in Mariemont Players’ 110 In The Shade when genuine theatrical impact shines through the difficulties of staging a Broadway musical of only iffy merit with a cast of 16. It’s presented on a set designed by Dennis Murphy that communicates the play's mood, as well as its time and place — a drought-scourged, worry-scurried prairie village in the 1930s. Farmers are giving up hope of a rain that will save their crops and cattle, just as thirtysomething Lizzie Curry (Laurie Brinkman) is close to giving up hope of ever finding a husband and having children.
Then, into this dry, dusty landscape rolls a drum-banging, sweet-talking, rain-making con artist named Bill Starbuck or maybe Tornado Johnson or a dozen other names (Wayne Wright). He promises (in exchange for a mere $100) to bring on a holy-hallelujah, kick-up-your-heels-and-write-it-in-the-Bible rainstorm. Just beat this drum, he says, and paint a whitewashed arrow on the ground to lead the lightning away from the farmhouse. He also exposes Lizzie to her true self, making her see the pretty truth inside the plain exterior. Soon enough thunder is rattling on the horizon, and Lizzie is confronted with not one but two proposals — the second and more realistic from File (Rick Kramer), the town's sheriff.
Thursday-Sunday through Feb. 1 at the Walton Creek Theater. Read the full review of 110 in the Shade here.