let me start off by saying that there was this woman that I was taking a ballet class with while I was rehearsing the wonderful play "The Rainmaker"...well, this woman...I
do not know her name asked me about the storyline since she had seen some of the publicity that came out...I told her and for those of you in the know about this play when I got to " And then Starbuck
comes to town"...she stops me and with complete sincerity and a very large smile says "Why didn't you tell me its the story of Starbucks...I am so there".....I said nothing more. I just smiled
back and I hope she wasn't too disappointed when she came to the theatre and she didn't hear the words "grande latte"....
You know when you go into a
role that was made classic both in the film by Katherine Hepburn and onstage by Geraldine Page--well, there is a lot of history there ...there, and I
wanted to do it justice for those of you who have not seen it. It plays every so often on TCM; I saw it growing up on television and it had a major lasting affect on me...it was so beautifully done. The
playwright N Richard Nash wrote this about long ago America--a family living on a ranch in a small small town suffering from drought. It's a father and his sons and his daughter
Lizzy who they are afraid will never get married. She never could open up to boys and was teased for not being pretty in school and its been some time since school with no prospects. Along comes Starbuck and he
manages in his charismas manner to talk the family into doing some pretty crazy things to bring rain for $100 (which was like $1000 back then) and brings Lizzy out of her shell.
I never thought I would get a
chance to attempt this, and I put my heart and soul into creating Lizzy from the top of my head to the bottom of my feet. Finding the inner Lizzy continued as a work in progress for me and I loved the whole
process of it.
....It was wonderful having a
"cast" that was "perfectly cast" in my opinion--the actor Bruce Popielarski who played my father loved his wardrobe of jeans, flannel shirt and suspenders so
much. How much you ask? So much that he offered the theatre shirts and ties from his own suitcase so he could keep the outfit...I think he told me he didn't own a pair of jeans. Once we got fitted for the show,
he would wear it when we left rehearsal and show up in it when we returned way before we even got to dress rehearsal....talk about your method acting. And the actor playing Starbuck: Peter
Gutierrez, always came in--honest to g-d--with a Starbucks cup in his hand. So of course for the opening night present which I gave on closing night--what else would I have given this group--a boxed
signature Starbuck coffee mug.
When I went into this towns only Starbucks to buy the gifts, who should show up but Starbuck
himself for his daily Starbucks fix. So to the bewilderment of the person packing up my gifts "in Starbucks" in separate gift bags I exclaimed, "Oh, I can't believe it Starbuck is here. He can't
see me." Not knowing what I was talking about since the CEO and founder is Howard Schultz she very quietly told me that I could hide in the kitchen. I tried to explain it away after Peter left but I don't
think she quite understood what the heck I was talking about.
The audiences loved the show
(not to brag), but just to brag a bit...we got standing "o's" every single performance and I was told that many had tears in their eyes when they exited the theatre. It's wonderful to invoke that kind
of reaction from an audience. No reviewers but I am quite proud of what the artistic director John Sbordone had to say about me: "Annie Gaybis continues to demonstrate the
breadth of her art. She captured the soul and the heart of Lizzy Curry in City Repertory Theatre's production of N. Richard Nash's The Rainmaker. This beautiful actress assumed the
mantle of a "plain Jane" and then transformed into a glorious woman thru the urging of Starbuck, the Rainmaker. In numerous shows whether Tennessee Williams anguished
heroine in Suddenly Last Summer, the femme fatale of Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday or the wide eyed pixie of Shaw's Pygmalion,
Ms. Gaybis has embodied the role and won over the audience. She is a true professional. I look forward to our continued collaboration.
Sometimes you have to say
"Ain't Life Grand."