On Sunday, October 8 the cast of THE RAINMAKER finished a long tech weekend with our first tech stumble through. Tired but confident, we went home, ready for the dress rehearsal and preview process that would bring us to opening on Friday, Oct 13. By Monday morning however, everything had changed.
Overnight three different major fires had broken out in Sonoma county. Entire neighborhoods in Santa Rosa had been decimated, and the hills above Sonoma were red with flames. Seeing that the fire lines were holding, the company came in on Monday and Tuesday for dress rehearsals. By Wednesday, the wind shifted and the much of the town of Sonoma was under evacuation order. Opening weekend was cancelled as the three fires merged into one to create the most destructive wildfire in California history, with at least 43 souls lost and 5,700 buildings destroyed.
The show must go on, but when a raging wildfire gets to within a few blocks of the theatre, the show will go on a little later than planned. After a strange few days off (during what should have been opening weekend), the cast assembled in a dance studio 30 miles away to brush up in hopes of being let into the theatre soon. WIthin a few hours, a file broke out just a 1/4 mile from the dance studio and we could see the flames through the windows.
Luckily, that was the beginning of the end of fire drama. The evacuation orders were lifted the following day and we restarted the dress rehearsal process. By Thursday, Oct 19 (our new opening night), the company was ready and we presented THE RAINMAKER to a sparsely attended, slightly nervous audience, many of whom had just gotten back into their homes the same day. But they connected with the story and enjoyed the show. As one patron told me "after the last week, this was the show I needed to see", and that made it all worth it.
The RAINMAKER company was professional all of the way through the process. We all knew people that had lost their homes, and many of our production crew was under evauation orders. But we knew that our problems were negliable compared to the loss encountered by otheres and the company never lost their monentum or focus. The tag line for the show "Dark times are followed by the light", was selected long before the opening and the fires, but it proved prophetic. Though the houses were small, the performances of THE RAINMAKER were beautiful, touching and a balm to the soul of everyone who attended.