By Gail McCarthy
---- — Gloucester Stage kicks off its summer reading series on Monday with a new play featuring local ties.
The first reading will be “The Rainmaker” by the late playwright N. Richard Nash on July 29 at 8 p.m. He is the father of Amanda Nash, a former president of the Rocky Neck Art Colony and avid support of the arts on Cape Ann.
This play reading celebrates the 100th anniversary of the playwright’s birth. The evening includes a casual reception and conversation with Nash following the reading.
The play takes place during the time of a devastating drought in the West. The play focuses on a girl, whose father and brothers are worried about her becoming “an old maid” as well as the drought killing their cattle. The brothers try every possible scheme to marry her off, but without success. Into the setting comes a sweet-talking man claiming to be “the rainmaker,” who not only promises to bring rain for $100, but also persuades the girl that she is a real beauty of her own.
The playwright grew up in Philadelphia and later settled in New York City as his successful career evolved. He studied literature and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania.
”The stories he told that I liked the most were about the antics he and his friends got up to during the Depression,” Amanda Nash recalled. “(A) $10-a-match boxing (appearance) was one — I guess he got the $10 but he was pretty well bloodied.”
Growing up, Nash attended a lot of theater in Manhattan.
”He was adventurous theater-wise. He would have loved Gloucester Stage,” Nash said of her father. “He liked theater in all its forms, and he particularly liked it when it was fledgling. He was not a shiny glamorous kind of guy. He liked real people. He taught me a love of letters, and I have been in publishing for a lot of my life.”
The cast for the reading, which includes many Gloucester Stage favorites, features Richard Snee, Steven Barkhimer, Alexander Platt, Michael Underhill, Julie Jirousek, Robert D. Murphy, and Johnny Lee Davenport.
The reading is being directed by Barlow Adamson, who shared the stage with Snee and Barkhimer in the Norman Conquests Trilogy that Played out at Gloucester Stage over the 2010 to 2012 seasons. Davenport, meanwhile, starred in 2012’s “Master Harold… and the Boys” and returns later this season to star in “Driving Miss Daisy” with Lindsay Crouse.
The other plays scheduled for readings will be “Honor Thy Mother” by Kyle Bradstreet on Sept. 9, and “Bach/Schweitzer” by Robert Boulrice on Sept. 16. The suggested donation is $20. Gloucester Stage Co. is at 267 East Main St. in Gloucester. For reservations, contact the box office at 978-281-4433 or visit www.gloucesterstage.org.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.