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Rain or No, the Show Goes On Even in ‘Sun’ Valley
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Thursday, August 26, 2021
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

Lila Claghorn and Cathy Reinheimer never thought they would have to worry about rain during a period of extreme drought.

But the two organizers of the Field Daze cabarets at the Reinheimer Ranch had to contend with deluges during at least two of their open-air shows this past month.

With a lot of extra work, the show went on—even in an area where it rains so seldom that no one could be faulted if they didn’t remember where they had put their umbrella.

It’s not something the two will have to deal with Friday and Saturday when R.L. Rowsey & Friends take the stage for the final two performances of the season. After all, there’s only a 1 percent chance of rain  those days.

But the two will never forget the day they and others worked together to save the Comedy, Cocktails & Classics event.

The day dawned with an ugly forecast that predicted heavy rain all day and into the evening. And the weatherman didn’t disappoint as the skies opened up and the rain began pouring about four hours before the show.

Unlike most summer storms in Sun Valley, which hit for five minutes and move on, this hung around, punctuating the sky with a little lightning and sending rivers streaming down Ketchum’s streets.

Claghorn and Reinheimer could have thrown in their extremely wet towel.

But instead they went to work, emailing what was to be a record audience of 140 ticket holders updates each hour offering semi-confident assurances that the show would go on.

Three high school boys set up a couple large tents in the field north of Reinheimer’s home and moved tables and chairs underneath.

And performers began nervously watching the skies to see if they could see a hopeful band of light.

That never came. But, miraculously, the rain turned to showers 15 minutes before the performance was to start. And cars began pulling into the field, their headlights lighting up the dark.

Claghorn and Reinheimer began directing parking in the mud. And Claghorn climbed on the  stage, curlers in her hair, welcoming the first who showed up.

“My training kicked in and I can’t really explain it but that’s when I get an enormous sense of calm,” said Claghorn, who performs regularly at The Comedy Store and other venues. “We had to make sure that the 'show went on'--not only because it behooved me as a performer, but also as the musical director and co-producer of the show.”

Attendees planted chairs under the tents that had been set up. Some even pulled picnic fixin’s out of coolers and proceeded as if it were a normal summer evening. Others set lawn chairs at the edge of the tents, propping umbrellas above their heads and wrapping themselves in blankets.

Los Angeles comedian Ally Weinhold, who has performed at The Laugh Factory and other venues, tried to make chit chat with the audience as the show start was rolled back a half-hour to deal with a sudden power outage and a wet stage.

“What was funny during the pandemic?” she asked. “Not a lot.”

As the moments rolled on, she staged an impromptu therapy session on stage.

“The only reason I’m here is because my parents wanted a baby,” she lamented. “They wanted to take care of me for a while. Now they no longer want to take care of me--they expect me to pay my own rent. At 32 I have to live with the consequences of their actions.”

 “My parents did the worst possible thing—they believed in me,” retorted Claghorn. “And then they supported me through this whole entertaining thing.”

 As Weinhold talked, Footlight Dance Director Hilarie Neely and Reinheimer ran squeegees up and down the stage pushing an inch of standing water off the stage. Claghorn moved potted trees from one spot to another. Then Neely and Reinheimer got down on their knees with towels to make sure the equipment and stage floor were dry and safe for the cast as their sound man dealt with a sudden power outage.

“This is part of show business. The rain is stopping so the show must go on,” Claghorn said.

“When we realized that we were getting the stage, tents, tables and chairs ready during that rainstorm, we just had to trust that our committed patrons would know that we were putting our all into making the space as comfortable for them as possible, despite the deluge,” said Reinheimer.

Finally, the show began. The showers had stopped, the lights had been restored, and a couple who had come from Florida to see their granddaughter Dakota Barth perform with the Footlight Dancers breathed a sigh of relief.

“We came from our daughter Jen Barth’s home in Hailey where it was not raining to to find a deluge,” said Grandma Linda Brucksieker, there with her husband Bob.

Cathy Reinheimer mounted the stage.

“I’m so proud of all of you for believing in this,” she told the audience.

 Madison Hansmeyer led off with “Sitting on the Dock of the Baby”  and Lila Claghorn followed with “Air Conditioner,” which was so not needed that evening. And Broadway performer excited the audience with “Montana.”  

Then Barth, Malia Foley, Robyn Fox and Lilia Page performed “Cantina Band” from Footlight Dance Company’s Star Wars production in their first in-person performance since the pandemic.

“I've spent my life in front of a camera or on stage, and all the while training, training, training-- doing the work and dealing in the ‘controllables,’ ” said Claghorn. “I love the work, the challenge --it's why I started doing it and why I will keep doing it. I still have that playful, childlike wonder and so, that night’s performance was simply spectacular.”  

 Claghorn said she was grateful for an audience that was encouraging despite the obstacles—"the sense of camaraderie between audience and performers was magical.”

“It was like the rain and the wind knew it too, and just before we started, the clouds cleared and I got to sing some of my favorite comedic and meaningful songs.  And more than that, I got to perform for my parents after a year and a half of not being able to, surrounded by my chosen Idaho family, and those who supported Cathy and me last year, during such a different time.” 

 At one point, Claghorn—who was soaking wet from the rain---watched as the mic stand collapsed. Never mind. She threw out  comedic one-liner, switched mic stands while dancing like Lucille Ball and channeling Carol Burnett.

“Boom, I was golden and no one cared that the mic, the weather and my hair betrayed me, all while my green stilettos were covered in mud!” she said.

 “Theatre always gives us all a sense of  'a higher purpose', and that night, theatre and the audience alike came together, despite what the climate or conditions might have thrown at us,” added Reinheimer.

 

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