CLEARWATER — The forecast calls for a 100 percent chance of rain at Francis Wilson Playhouse — barring any unforeseen technical difficulties. Tonight through Sunday, the theater company continues its production of 110 in the Shade, the musical version of The Rainmaker.
"This is a big deal," said Andy Rufo, president and general manager of the playhouse, now in its 81st season. "We actually make it rain. It pours for 52 seconds, and the actors get soaking wet."
Some have raised concerns about the stage getting ruined, but Rufo says to them, "Don't worry. We have it covered."
And they do. Literally. Rufo explained the real stage is covered with waterproof sheeting and plywood, which is sealed and painted black. A hose is connected to a long pipe above, drilled with holes to create water droplets.
The show takes place in a drought-stricken 1930s western town, where everything seems to be drying up, even the prospects of marriage for spinster Lizzie Curry. That is until a charismatic con man named Bill Starbuck arrives in town and promises to make it rain for $100. When she falls for Starbuck's charm, the sheriff realizes he wants her for his own.
"When the audience sees it rain," said Rufo, "they stand up, whistle, yell and shout. We've had standing ovations every night."