The Water

Music by Georgia Stitt, Lyrics by Jeff Hylton
Book by Jeff Hylton and Tim Werenko.

When the residents of a small Missouri town confront the storm of the century, rain means something more than water, and a down-home diner becomes much more than a place to eat. With backwater wisdom and a compelling homespun score, this inspired new musical floods a tight-knit community with the triumphs and tragedies of everyday life, lived at a price and loved with a passion.

Cast: minimum 16 (7 men, 5 women, at least 4 ensemble)

  • April 27, 2009: Concert presentation of show at The Colony Theater in Burbank, CA.  Elise Dewesberry, Director.
  • May 2008: table read of rewritten script and score with Academy of New Music Theater in Los Angeles, Kent Nicholson, Director.
  • November 18-21, 2004: Full production at the University of Michigan, Brent Wagner, Director.
  • April 15-18, 2004: New Works Festival at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, California (two-week workshop directed by Robert Kelley, Artistic Director. Phil Fortenberry, Music Director.)
  • June 27, 2002: private reading of rewrites (Peter Flynn, Director.)
  • March 2001 – March 2002: Writers in Residence at Tribeca Performing Arts Center
  • 3/17/-18/02 reading of whole show (Peter Flynn, Director)
  • 11/1/01 reading of act one (Peter Flynn, Director)
  • 3/29/01 reading of first half of first act (Jeff Hylton, Director)


Watertown, Missouri, on the banks of the Onkeeton River. 1997. SANDY THOMAS, a short-order cook and recovering alcoholic, is getting ready for another day at the Main Street Café (ANOTHER DRY DAY), which is the central gathering point of this small town. It was recently purchased by LEN SCOTT and his daughter MADDY, who have moved here from New York. We meet HARV GOLDEN, the town’s crusty mayor, and his brother CECIL. It hasn’t rained in months. People allude to a flood that happened years ago and Len doesn’t understand. Sandy fills him in on the town’s history (RYAN AND THE WATER), as well as his own.

BECCA THOMAS, Sandy’s wife and Maddy’s sixth-grade teacher, is excited about the return of her old high school boyfriend, WILL DAVIS. Maddy presents a report to her classroom about the history of the dams on the Onkeeton (MADDY’S DAM REPORT) and at the end of the report, Will shows up to greet Becca. It begins to rain (FEEL THE RAIN). Will steals a kiss. Behind the café, NICKY, a wannabe entrepreneur who works in his father’s garage, greets his fiancée Susan, a waitress in the café. She complains about all the arrangements she has still to make (WEDDING PLANS) before September. He calms her and promises to buy her a ring as soon as he can afford it. Inside the café, Len is having a telephone argument with his ex-wife. Through the window he watches Maddy playing in the rain (ALIVE), happy for the first time since their move.

Becca answers the phone in her bedroom. It is Will. She asks him to stop calling her, then sings about how seeing him again has stirred feelings in her which have been long dormant (RIVER LIKE LIFE). Sandy walks in, and they argue. She storms out, and he sings about how he continues to mess up their relationship. In the same moment that he decides to recommit himself to his wife, Becca makes a date to see Will. The rain continues.

EARL DARLING, a Deputy, is alone at the police station (TO SERVE AND PROTECT). Will enters, and she shows him a flood warning from the Weather Bureau. Will ignores her and heads out to meet Becca. Back at the café, Nicky tells Susan he quit his job to start his own business, and he is excited that now they can leave town. Susan, surprised, says she doesn’t want to go. They are shocked to discover they have such different goals (SMOKIN’ IN THE RAIN).

LEN receives a registered letter from his ex-wife which contains news of her petition for full custody of Maddy. Will meets Becca. He sings (I LONG FOR YOU) of how he has spent his life stuck – ignoring his grief, unable to love, wanting only her. He wins her over, and they kiss, for real this time. Meanwhile, Sandy appears alone at his AA meeting, marking the one-year anniversary of his sobriety (RIVER LIKE LIFE (reprise)).

The river is swollen, and it looks like the gates of the Hapachuk dam will have to be opened and may flood the town. Harv orders everyone to evacuate. They resist, and, at Sandy’s urging, decide to stay and fight the water, using sandbags to protect their homes (FINALE: BUILD A WALL). Will and Sandy argue. The waters swell to a peak. In a surge of motion, Maddy is swept away into the river and the crowd explodes in chaos. End of act.
Act Two. A few days later. It is sunny and quiet. Len prays to God for Maddy’s safety. At one of the larger shelters, Earl speaks to a crowd, reading the names of those missing people who have been located (DID I?). Susan and Harv await news of still-missing Nicky and Cecil. Nicky’s name is read, and Susan is overwhelmed with relief. Harv waits. As the people are allowed to return to their homes they survey the considerable material damage. Harv and Earl help boost the morale of the crowd, reminding them that things would have been much worse had they not stayed and fought the water as long as they did (HOME SWEET HOME). Cecil has been located. As spirits rise, Len walks through the self-congratulating crowd (CONDOLENCES). Harv watches him go and explains to the others that Maddy’s body was found that morning. (MAYBE GOD’S MEAN).

Nicky returns with a very ill Cecil, who had been camping out at the grave of his wife. Harv and Earl return from the neighboring town and find themselves agreeing for the first time about anything. They kiss (OFFICER DARLING). Inside the café, Becca comforts Len. He gives her the keys to his café, saying that he cannot stay here under these circumstances. Will pressures Becca to run away with him, and she realizes that she belongs in this town with her husband, the one man who cared enough to stay and protect his home (FIFTEEN). Nicky finally has the ring and is ready to give it to Susan (THIS IS NICKY). Sandy and Will are both at the cemetery and finally have words about Becca. They fight, and in their anger and grief they realize they are both in mourning for the friendship they once shared (RYAN AND THE WATER reprise) and the only way to move on is to forgive themselves for errors of the past.

Becca gives Sandy return to the café, and they discover that the town has already begun to restore the café. Len enters, sees how the community has shown up to help him, and decides to stay in the only place he knows how to call home. (FINALE: ANOTHER DRY DAY) Harv notices that this morning, finally, is beginning to feel normal again. He takes a sip of his coffee and begins to go about his day. End of act. End of show.