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Ending the drought

BRECKENRIDGE – The LaDean sisters are stuck in a stagnant existence because it hasn’t rained in their town for 40 years. Monty Lou has been pregnant for 10 years, Laurie Laurie’s dead spirit refuses to leave the old magnolia tree, Pheenie is walking the entire coast of Florida searching for water, Rachel’s obsessed with her Ouija board, and little Dallas is determined to save them all. And we thought our drought was bad.

The Backstage Theatre’s presentation of “Alabama Rain” tells the story of five sisters who are just beginning to thirst for water – and growth – after a 40-year drought.

“It’s the mystery of very immature, very backward people trying to move on,” said Kelly Butler, who plays Pheenie. “The ridiculousness of it really works.”



The Southern sisters rely on superstition and a Ouija board to live because they are so afraid of everything. The allegorical comedy examines the danger of staying stuck in time and the mechanisms of change.

“It’s funny, but it also touches on important issues for women – the fact that women can be stagnant for so long and how women can not change for a long time and always have a longing for something else,” said Amy Fujiwara, who plays Rachel. “There’s all these very mundane things that women do on a daily basis. By coming to the show, they can look at that.”



But the show isn’t just for women.

“It’s a good girls’ night, and it’s a good date night,” said Alison Palmer (Monty Lou). “Anyone – whether they have sisters or have dated girls – will pick things up that have happened, or they hope will never happen – like being pregnant for 10 years.”

Director Deborah Shansky chose the five actresses – Butler, Fujiwara, Palmer, Denise Townsend and Amber Prim – out of 14 who auditioned because they had a natural comfort level with each other.

“What came naturally to them has expanded throughout rehearsals,” Shansky said. “The bond has come naturally. They spend time together after and between rehearsals. It helps the chemistry. This show is really about these five women and their relationship with each other. The comfort level its there. The trust is there.”

And the women fit their parts.

“Each one of the sisters has a different personality, and each woman in the show has that aspect in her personality. It’s very well cast,” Fujiwara said.

Butler is the oldest cast member (a fact her fellow actors constantly remind her of), and her character takes responsibility for finding water. Prim, 15, is the youngest, but she’s the oldest sibling in her real-life family, which matches her character’s heroic drive to save her sisters. Palmer admits she’s not afraid to let everyone know how she feels and when she doesn’t like something – much like her pregnant character, who fusses a lot. Fujiwara is strong-willed and committed to maintaining family connections. The jury’s still out as to whether or not Townsend consults the Ouija board for her every move.

“Alabama Rain” promises a surreal, light-hearted night out, unlike the Backstage’s last production, “Wit,” about a woman dying from cancer.

“”Wit’ was very real and poignant, and we’re just kind of NOT,” Palmer said.

The play runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays May 22 through June 14 at the Breckenridge Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $15 for adults and $8 for children 11 and younger (the language is family-friendly). To purchase tickets, call (970) 453-0199.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at knicoletti@summitdaily.com.


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