By Kelsea Denney | Contributor
"You can only see so far ahead, and that's enough for now."
It'll take courage to sit in Mitchell Theatre during the next two weekends as the lights dim and the rumble of thunderstorms fill your heart. On the stage will be a simple scene and a small cast, but do not let that fool you into thinking you'll be left with simple or small ideas.
"When the Rain Stops Falling" follows a family line from 1959 to 2039 through the curves and trials life has to offer. In 2039, Gabriel York finds a fish at his feet, a son at his door and the same question in his heart that has been lingering for years. His son will want answers about who he is and where he comes from, but how can Gabriel answer him when he wonders the same things about himself?
Generational history comes to life, flowing together as the rain falls. Onstage, the characters almost seem to dance around one another, their umbrellas and jackets hanging like skeletons in a closet behind them. With each revolving door of tragedy, sin, beauty and truth, puzzle pieces fit together, disguised in a breathtaking blur of umbrellas and passers-by, silently screaming "There's so much more to my story."
Told in an unorthodox manner, the artfulness of this piece is worth the struggle to understand. Truth does not come from perfection or ease but from the understated gathering of artists who are willing to bare the scars of stories and say, "We will not hide." And "When the Rain Stops Falling" offers viewers exactly that.
Junior cast member Jenna VanWeelden, who performs as Beth, commented on the blessing of performing in a place where the audience is exposed to art that asks questions. Senior Jessica Schulte, who plays the older version of VanWeelden's Beth, says she was drawn to the rich generational connectedness that "When the Rain" has to offer and related the deep roots of family history to her own.
At the heart of this show is an abundant amount of talent, charged with passion and reverence toward storytelling. There is even a team of understudies, prepared for performance at a moment's notice, yet we don't see them. We don't see the crew or the directors. We see costumed characters, exposing humanity with candor while living out their heartache and joy on the stage before us.
I saw "Antigone," and it sent a shiver up my spine. I sang along to "Oklahoma" and left with a crush on junior John Broda's Curly. But I felt "When the Rain Stops Falling" in all its raw power and emotion. I raced back to my dorm to tell my roommate she was coming with me to opening weekend.
Whether from the audience, behind the scenes or onstage, this production comes highly recommended. Freshman Darah Shepherd, the master electrician for the piece, glowed as she conversed with me about its beauty and honesty. Coming offstage, sophomore Brad Walker, who portrays Gabriel Law, spoke on behalf of the production's uniqueness compared to other shows. He said it exhibits a one-of-a-kind storytelling method and perspective on learning from brokenness.
"When the Rain Stops Falling" is not for the faint of heart. It is not for the shallow or the meek. It is for the thoughtful; for the artists. It is for the intellectuals and the fearless. But it is also for the children of God who seek comfort in connection and relation in difficulty.
Like a head-spinning thriller you restart to unveil the hidden clues just as you've finished, "When the Rain Stops Falling" should not be watched once, but two times over, and you've got two weekends to fit the necessary repeat in: Feb. 24 and 25, and March 3 and 4 at 8 p.m.and on Feb. 26 and March 5 at 2 p.m.
Step outside your comfort zone into the weathered stories of family, brokenness and redemption-but don't forget your umbrella.