By Jana Rivera
RAINBOW IS A happy place. Not the happiest place on earth, mind you--that would be Disneyland, but a happy place nevertheless. "Rainbow is a utopian place where everything that's good lives, and bad things only come to visit."
Arizona Rose Theatre Company's Rainbow Country Fair is the third show of the Rainbow Trilogy now playing at the Leo Rich Theater. The cheery folks of Rainbow are planning their first country fair, which will surely be filled with music, laughter and dancing, because every day in Rainbow is filled with music, laughter, and dancing.
But there's a little trouble in Rainbow today--the teenage girls are bored out of their gourds. Why? There seems to be a shortage of teenage boys in Rainbow. In fact, there seems to be a shortage of men above the age of 12 in Rainbow. Three grown men to be exact.
The sheriff and the mayor, of course are men. We must have men to keep order and run things, right? The women are just too busy baking and growing flowers. However, the newspaper is run by a woman. But it isn't really a serious newspaper at all, just a gossip rag. And who gossips better than women? It seems equality for women may be one of those bad things that cannot survive in Rainbow. Come to think of it, men might be one of those bad things that cannot survive in Rainbow. But if they are good enough to live there, they surely should hold the positions of power, right?
But let's not jump to conclusions too quickly. As it turns out, the sheriff is too dumb to find his way from one end of Rainbow to the other, and the person actually keeping order in town is Hannah the baker, a wise woman who delivers pearls of wisdom along with loaves of bread.
The mayor, as it turns out, is pretty much worthless also. It's the mayor's wife who actually runs things. Of course, she does make the mistake of falling for the charms of Sam Slick, a no-good rascal who slithers into town to steal precious stones. But who wouldn't after residing in Rainbow for any length of time. And the third male resident of Rainbow is simply too insignificant even to mention.
But in spite a subtle message that we would be better off going back to the days when women knew their proper place in life--up on that glorious pedestal--Rainbow Country Fair does overtly, through song, deliver some positive messages that we all know, but sometimes forget.
Residents of Rainbow left the "real world" because it was just too awful. Here they reside in peace and harmony without the forces of greed. They remind those of us who are forced to reside in the awful real world that we should help people, listen to our children, and realize that winning isn't everything. Not bad messages.
Rainbow's production is fun and colorful, however, the tempo never seems to change. I found myself waiting for one of those talented singers on stage to break out with something a little jazzy--put some good, clean, wholesome pizzazz into the show.
Things did perk up a little, though, when the mayor's wife started randomly calling audience members to come up on stage and participate in the hog calling and dance contests.
Rainbow is filled with talented singers and actors of all ages. The singing talent of Danielle Erin Rhodes is showcased, and she performs beautifully. Brian Rowe, in the small part of Tag, took full advantage of his time on stage, and shined with his tap dancing ability.
The Rainbow series was conceived, created, and developed by Terry and Cynthia Howell. Terry Howell and Brandon Howell write the music and the lyrics to the songs in Rainbow. Director Terry Howell and choreographer Mindie Lee Denning do a fine job with a cast of more than 25, many of them children.
Arizona Rose Theatre Company's production of Rainbow Country Fair continues at TCC Leo Rich Theater, 260 S. Church., with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, February 18, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 19. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for children 12 and under, available at Dillard's or charge-by-phone at 791-4836.
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