"It's reaching people."
That's what director Mark Steighner says of the musical "110 in the Shade" at Hood River Valley High School.
The dramatic show closes this weekend. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $5 general, $4 for students and seniors, at the Bowe Theatre box office.
The student actors have grown tremendously in their roles, and some of the more emotional scenes have drawn distinct reactions from the audience, according to the director.
"We've had people shouting at the stage," Steighner said, in response to tense interactions between members of the family at the center of the show.
"Shade" was written by Tom Jones and Harvey Schmidt. It is based on the play and film "The Rainmaker" by Richard Nash, the show which followed on the heels of the team's previous successes, "I Do, I Do," and "The Fantasticks."
"It's not a typical musical," Steighner said. "There is a high degree of acting skill required, because of the depth of the characters."
"I think people will be surprised at how moving and thoughtful the show is. People get caught up in the drama," Steighner said.
The story takes place in a fictional Texas town in the midst of a drought. In the midst rides Starbuck, a self-professed rainmaker, who promises to bring rain in 24 hours. The central character is Lizzy Curry, a bright and articulate young woman who is searching for a companion as strong and secure as she is. Her life, along with that of her father and brothers, is changed by the rainmaker into something somewhat unexpected.
"The story is multi-layered and incredibly rich," Steighner said. "It is a simple tale but can be interpreted in many different ways. It has the power of myth, in fact, and suggests a folk tale or fable."
The cast of 30 actors inclues many familar faces to the HRV stage, and several newcomers. Jessica Bryan plays Lizzy, and her father is portrayed by her actual father, John Bryan, who has worked in CAST musicals and performed in "Shade" in New York City.
"It's been a good experience for them," Steighner said of the Bryans. "I think it has led to some interesting discussions at home."
Janet Drummond is the other adult in the play; Steighner said he extended an invitation to parents of cast members to get involved, "so it wouldn't be just a town full of kids."
Also featured are Rudy Schuepbach and Kent Arbon as Lizzy's brothers, Russell Marquez as File, the Sheriff, and Hans Severinsen as Starbuck.