May 2003

"A Beautiful Little Comedy"

On Thursday, May 8, as part of our "Women at the Footlights" series, we discuss what London's Daily Mail called "a beautiful little comedy with a catch in its throat": "The Rainmaker" (1954), by N. Richard Nash. As their farm languishes under a devastating drought, one woman's family worries more about her marriage prospects than about their dying cattle. Suddenly, a charming stranger promises, for the right price, to bring rain. "Stirring" (Newsday), "captivating" (New York Times), "wise" (Times (of London)), & "wonderfully funny" (New York Daily News), this "classic" (Chicago Sun-Times) will leave you "moved and entertained" (New Yorker). A 1956 film version starred Burt Lancaster & Katharine Hepburn; a 1963 musical adaptation, "110 in the Shade," recently played to packed houses at Signature Theatre. 

Gavin Witt, resident dramaturg at Center Stage, will lead our discussion. Actor, director, teacher, & translator, Witt received his B.A. from Yale & his M.A. from Footlights co-sponsor the University of Chicago, where he has taught drama since 1991. Before joining the Center Stage staff, Witt served as resident dramaturg both at Chicago's Northlight Theatre & at the University of Chicago's Court Theatre. "The Rainmaker" opens at Center Stage May 21.

Make reservations by calling 202-898-4825 or e-mailing [email protected]. We'll meet at Delray Vietnamese Garden, 4918 Del Ray Ave., Bethesda. From Bethesda metro, take both up escalators, turn left onto Old Georgetown Rd., walk up to Del Ray Ave. & turn right. Drivers should park above the first floor in one of the nearby garages, on Del Ray Ave., Cordell Ave., or Old Georgetown Rd. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m.; our discussion runs 7:30-9:30. Read the play first. Hire "The Rainmaker" at Backstage Books, 545 8th St., SE, & for a Footlights discount at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave., NW, & Olsson's Books & Records, 1307 19th St., NW, & 7647 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda.

Opening in Misty Baltimore

When "The Rainmaker" premiered on Broadway, the New York Mirror called it "a hit you must see." We'll take that advice on Sunday, June 8, 2 p.m. at Center Stage, 700 N. Calvert St. in downtown Baltimore. Tickets are $22 & include a post-show discussion. We must receive payment by May 23 & can't issue refunds. But we can arrange transportation to the theater; just ask. Mail your check to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852 (240-669-6300 & [email protected]).

Uncovering "Buried Child"

Our ongoing series "Footlights' Greatest Hits" concludes this season at 2 p.m., Sunday, May 18, with the Keegan/Fountainhead joint production of Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Buried Child" (1978). In a shabby midwestern farmhouse, a young man searches for identity in a family seized by sordid secrets. Tickets are only $9 & include a post-show discussion. The performance takes place at Clark Street Playhouse, 601 S. Clark St., Crystal City, where last September we saw "The Maids." We can provide free transportation or detailed directions, both by car & from nearby metro stations. Mail your check to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. We'll distribute tickets in the lobby just before the performance.

"Ghosts" of Junes Past

Celebrate Footlights' eighth birthday on Wednesday, June 11, when we discuss "Ghosts" (1881), by Henrik Ibsen. In "Ghosts," a philanderer's widow must confront her late husband's legacy of disease, both physical & spiritual. After over a century, "Ghosts" is "still powerful" (Newsday), "compelling" (Village Voice), & "shatteringly effective" (London Telegraph). It's a "masterpiece" (New York Times), "overwhelming" & "unforgettable" (New York Post), a "brilliant" play (Nation) by a "genius" (New York Daily News). Our meeting will feature director Edwin Sherin, whose production of "Ghosts"--starring Jane Alexander--we'll attend 2 p.m. Saturday June 28 at Shakespeare Theatre, 450 7th St., NW. Tickets are $26 or 31 & include a post-show discussion. Mail your check to Robin Larkin, 5403 Nibud Ct., Rockville, MD 20852. At 9:30 p.m. May 8, we'll start taking reservations for our June dinner- discussion. Call 202-898-4825, e-mail [email protected], or sign up in person at the end of our May meeting.

Footlights on Stage & Screen

*Now through May 3: Debbie Minter Jackson stars in the A.S.I.A. production of "BEE" at Theater-on-the-Run, 3700 S. Four Mile Run Dr., Arlington. Tickets are $15. Call 703-979-0875 or go to

*April 26, 27, & 30: Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Rd., Silver Spring, screens "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex," adapted from our March play "Elizabeth the Queen." For further information call 301-495-6700 or go to

*April 28: Washington Performing Arts Video Archive, directed by Footlights Advisory Board (FAB) member Jim Taylor, holds its annual Richard Bauer Award fundraiser at Mimi's, 2120 P St., NW. Tickets are $35. Call 301-353-0904 or e-mail [email protected]

*April 29: Bud Larkin & Ruth Pierce appear in the Heyday Players' free performance of "Conversations" at the old Round House Theatre, Bushey Dr., Silver Spring. Call 301-585-1225 x.11. 

*May 19: Theatre Lobby confers its annual Mary Goldwater Awards at the Writer's Center, 4508 Walsh St. in Bethesda. Free. Recipients include FAB member Jose Carrasquillo, for directing "The Maids" (which we saw last September); & the African Continuum Theatre Co., in part for "The Amen Corner" (which we saw last October). Call 301-570-5717.

Dinner Discussions

 Thursday, May 8: "The Rainmaker," Delray Viet Garden 
Wednesday, June 11: "Ghosts," Luna Books 
Monday, July 14: "Diana of Dobson's," Luna Books

Theater Trips

Sunday, May 18: "Buried Child," Keegan/Fountainhead Theatre 
Sunday, June 8: "The Rainmaker," Center Stage 
Saturday, June 28: "Ghosts," Shakespeare Theatre

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