Indiana State University Newsroom

Crossroads Rep presents new vision for revival of 'The Rainmaker'

June 10, 2015

Audiences will have the opportunity to rediscover a classic when Crossroads Repertory Theatre opens its 50th anniversary season on June 19 with a revival of "The Rainmaker."

Set in a small western town during the Dustbowl, the romantic comedy also opened the first season of what was then known as Summer Theatre in 1965. The play by N. Richard Nash tells the story of spinsterish Lizzie Curry, who lives with her father and brothers on their farm that is devastated by the drought. Enter the charming con man Starbuck, who arrives and promises to bring rain in exchange for $100.

"I hope people come and have a good time and perhaps they'll have a memory of the movie version of ‘The Rainmaker' that they saw many, many years ago," said director Arthur Feinsod. "Or maybe there'll be a few people in the audience who saw the original production of this play when we presented it in 1965 and, if so, I hope we kindle some fond nostalgia about that production while inviting them to experience it anew."

For this summer's production, Feinsod brings a new minimalist vision to the stage.

"I'm intrigued with the idea of a ‘Rainmaker' that is going to be on an empty stage - literally, furniture floating in vastness, getting rid of all the walls," Feinsod said. "It's a very heartwarming comedy, and I think there's a kind of poetic soul in it. I would like to dig and reveal that poetic soul."

This approach is one Feinsod, professor of theater at Indiana State University, explored in his book "The Simple Stage," published by Greenwood Press.

"A favorite production I researched many years ago was Chekhov's ‘The Cherry Orchard' directed by Andrei Serban - furniture in a pool of light in a cherry orchard. I thought that was so elegant, and I always wanted to try something like that. Well, this is the perfect play for it," Feinsod said. "Cracking earth is the floor, and the rest, a backdrop that will hold light in any way we want so we literally bring the drought and the beautiful western sky into the Curry living room and into the laps of our New Theater audience. The drought and the stunning sky needs to be a poetic image that stays with the play from the beginning to the end."

Feinsod was artistic director of Crossroads Rep, 2002-2014, and has since shifted his focus to his passions for playwriting and directing without having the worry of administrative issues. Additionally, he has a personal connection to "The Rainmaker," a play he directed in Cambridge, Mass., in 1980.

"I'm very honored (Crossroads artistic director) Chris (Berchild) chose to have me do the first show of the anniversary season," Feinsod said. "To do that play is a great honor in itself and of course it is a play that I've done before, so it has a double power for me - one, something I loved working on many years ago, but never felt I nailed it my first time around. Now I have a second whack at it, while bringing it to this important occasion.

"It is an ideal play to honor a very important company in the area, the only professional theater company in the Wabash Valley, and a company that has nurtured me as a director more than a decade. And I am thrilled to be working with an outstanding design and acting team this time around."

Audiences will enjoy seeing a cast full of familiar faces - those who have graced the stage for Crossroads' and Indiana State's recent seasons.

"I am blessed with several superb actors from Chicago who were with us last summer - Andrew Behling and Molly LeCaptain. The two of them are brilliant actors, who are great at both the comic and serious aspects of the craft and have a magic energy together on stage," Feinsod said. "And I also have the joy of working with some of the most talented actors from my past 10 years at Crossroads Rep and the ISU theater department: Brandon Wentz, Chuck Shutt, his grandson Will Rupert, Pete Cianconi and Dylan Gentilcore. To have such an outstanding group of theater artists around me is a personal and professional joy."

Exciting and also daunting is how LeCaptain describes her role as Lizzie, a character she said she identifies with in many ways.

"What an honor to play such an important role in this show, which is such an important part of CRT's history, but that also leaves a bit of pressure to live up to any expectations that come with reviving any show!" said LeCaptain, who will also be starring as Mimi in Crossroads' production of "Rent."

Dylan Gentilcore, a May graduate of Indiana State's theater program, will also offer a familiar face on stage. Gentilcore participated in four mainstage productions during the academic year - as head guard in "Nightfall," lead Segismundo in "Life is a Dream," Beethoven in "33 Variations" and Buckingham in "Richard III."

"The Rainmaker" will be his first professional opportunity.

"It's been on my ISU bucket list, and it's something great to make that transition from student to professional," Gentilcore said. "After four shows, I thought during the last show, my process as an actor was the best it's been so far. That's taking into account really knowing what my role is as an actor, knowing how I need to go about doing my business when I'm at rehearsal and outside of rehearsal and then having the proper mindset as an actor."

A native of Richmond, Ind., Gentilcore says he feels prepared to meet the high bar set by the more experienced professional actors.

"One thing I've learned at Indiana State is things just fall into place," Gentilcore said. "To bookend my college career with almost a bookend in itself - they're bringing the show back - makes sense. It's exciting to see what we can do with this show and how it can compare to previous show and how it will impact today's audience."

"The Rainmaker" runs at 7:30 p.m. June 19, July 9, 16 and 22 and 4 p.m. June 21 in Indiana State's New Theater, 540 N. 7th St. Season tickets are available for $52 each, and single-production tickets are $15-20 for general admission.

To buy tickets or donate to Crossroads Repertory Theatre, go to or call the box office, which opens June 15, at 812-237-3333.

Photo: - "The Rainmaker" opens the 50th anniversary season of Crossroads Repertory Theater. The cast includes (left to right) Dylan Gentilcore, Pete Ciancone, Andrew Behling, Will Rupert, and Molly LeCaptain. (ISU/Angelique Bokamba)

Photo: - Chuck Shutt (left) plays Sheriff Thomas and Brandon Wentz portrays File in the Crossroads Repertory Theater Production of "The Rainmaker." (ISU/Angelique Bokamba)

Photo: - Andrew Behling and Molly LeCaptain rehearse a scene from "The Rainmaker." (ISU/Angellique Bokamba)

Contact: David Valdez, instructor, department of theater at Indiana State University, or 812-237-3337

Media Contact: Libby Roerig, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3790 or