It’s a win-win-win situation this summer for the Milam Community Theater production of “The Rainmaker,” which opens July 26 at the Williams Event Center in Cameron.
When directors Richard and Tia Stone decided they needed some fresh ideas for set design, they reached out to the theater department of Southwestern University in Georgetown. The Stones were referred to senior theater design student Stetson Gilchrist of Belton. Gilchrist graduated from Salado High School.
Gilchrist did not disappoint. “He came up with some ideas and some techniques we had not thought of, like stretched muslin panels,” said Richard Stone. But, that led to a second problem. “I said, we don’t have the manpower for this and Stetson said, ‘I can get you that. Just buy them some pizza,” said Stone.
Five other current or former Southwestern students showed up to build the panels, also called flats. Chris Weihert and Amanda Whisenhunt of Austin, Phillip Smith of Georgetown and Paul Pinkston and Cory Koesel of Temple spent a recent Sunday working on the project, which included painting the back stage wall.
Milam County Theater volunteers who joined in were Melanie Reed, Colleen Waring, Bobby and Monica Schiller, Dustan Owens, Ken Janacek and Phyllis Waring, Richard and Tia Stone and producer Randy Leo.
“They are a huge help,” said Leo. “They gave us new skills and some excellent new ideas for how we can better use our space.”
“Our daughter majored in theater at Southwestern and graduated in 2011, so we got to know that department” said Stone. “It’s like a goldmine because these kids love theater. We felt that was a resource this community theater needed to tap into,” said Stone.
But, the benefit was mutual. There aren’t that many viable small town community theaters in the area, said Stone. “It gives the kids an opportunity for some real world experience for their avocation,” he said.
Stone feels that, by extension, this benefits the community as well.
“It’s kind of an economic development issue to some degree, said Stone.
“It says something very positive to somebody who might be considering our town as a place to locate a business that a town the size of Cameron has a community theater that has been active and viable for 21 years.”
Performances of “The Rainmaker” will be at 7 p.m. on July 26 and Aug. 2 and at 2 p.m. on July 27 and Aug. 3.