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Passion in the Pacific

Good and evil pull at characters stranded on an island. Sailors, a missionary and a prostitute provide the sizzling mix.

Published January 16, 2004

NEW PORT RICHEY - Richey Suncoast Theatre takes a turn toward the serious with the drama Rain, adapted from Somerset Maugham's story, Miss Thompson, about a missionary temporarily marooned on a Pacific island in a group that includes a brash and cynical prostitute named Sadie Thompson.

The show continues weekends through Feb. 1.

Rain was made into a movie three times, first as a silent film in 1928, Sadie Thompson, with Gloria Swanson, then in 1932 as Rain with Joan Crawford, and, finally, in 1953 as Miss Sadie Thompson with Rita Hayworth (in 3-D Technicolor, no less). It's a classic struggle between good and evil and the definitions of good and evil.

In the play, Sadie flirts and cavorts with the sailors, while the Rev. Davidson does a slow burn at what he sees as her outrageous behavior. Sadie's open contempt for the self-righteous minister is tempered when she learns that he knows about her past and has the power to have her returned to prison in the United States.

Sadie sidles up to him, and Davidson deserts his condescending wife and friends to try to convert Sadie to a virtuous life. Sadie seems to be persuaded, but a turn of events turns the direction of both her life and the minister's into disappointment and tragedy.

"I think this is a powerful show," said Arthur Day, an experienced performer and communications instructor who is directing the play.

"The ending allows the audience to speculate as to what has happened," he said. "It's sort of a whodunnit, but in the form of a drama."

Sadie is played by veteran actor Ginger King, whose roles at Richey Suncoast include Essie in The Great Sebastians and Charlotte in Moon Over Buffalo. At other theaters, she has played Hot Lips in M.A.S.H., M'Lynn and Truvy in two separate productions of Steel Magnolias, Chelsea in On Golden Pond, Amanda in The Glass Menagerie and Penny in You Can't Take It With You. She is a member of the Screen Actors Guild and has appeared in three feature films and many regional and national commercials.

The troubled minister Davidson is played by award-winning actor John Masterson, who was last seen at Richey Suncoast as the befuddled Abe Goldman in Beau Jest and, earlier, in Charley's Aunt and The Sunshine Boys. At Stage West Community Playhouse, Masterson won HAMI Awards for his roles in the musical Gypsy and in a play for Lost in Yonkers. He also played the psychopath Harry Roat Jr. and Sr. in Wait Until Dark there and the irascible Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple at the erstwhile Michelangelo Dinner Theater.

In supporting roles are Drew Lundquist (Fatty Arbuckle in Mack and Mable; Jester in Once Upon a Mattress, Townsend in The Heiress) as Sadie's admirer, Sergeant O'Hara; Larry Franz (Barefoot in the Park and Sugar Babies at Richey Suncoast) as Quartermaster Bates; Richey newcomer Danny Scott as the reasonable Dr. MacPhail and Richey veteran Gloria J. Searle (Follies, Oliver!, American Rock) as his wife.

The cast also has Pat Robinson, Jeff Cannon, Anthony Lecznar, Willem Nichols and Linda Hamrell.

At a glance

WHAT: Rain, a drama

WHERE: Richey Suncoast Theatre, 6237 Grand Blvd., New Port Richey

WHEN: Weekends through Feb. 1. Shows are at 8 p.m., excepts Sundays at 2:30 p.m.

TICKETS: $15. Box office is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and an hour before each show. Call (727) 842-6777.

[Last modified January 16, 2004, 01:33:00]

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