Writer Jim Leonard Jr. sets his Depression-era fable in the Indiana community of Zion, population 40. C.C. Showers (Nathan Graham Smith), a disillusioned former preacher, arrives in Zion seeking work, and encounters a strange boy, Buddy (Rob Herring), a simpleminded savant. At age 4, Buddy nearly drowned; his mother died attempting to save him. His long immersion left him with strange powers, including the ability to find water during a drought, but he's also terrified of water. Showers befriends the boy, and attempts to cure him of his fears, but Bible-thumping religious zealot Norma Henshaw (Jennifer Lynn Davis) believes the former preacher has come to save the town. Her bossy interference leads to catastrophe. Leonard's attempt to give his tale cosmic significance doesn't entirely convince, but as a sweet folk tragi-comedy, his play is highly engaging. Smith makes Showers completely persuasive, Herring is funny and touching as Buddy, and, under TL Kolman's able direction, the cast offers fine support. Alex Egan and Reed Armstrong find rich comedy in the village elders, Lauren Schneider provides a sympathetic portrait of Buddy's loyal sister, and Chris Blim, Reed Windle and Ferrell Marshall are colorful locals. The Chandler Studio Theatre, 12443 Chandler Blvd., N.Hlywd.; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 3 p.m., through April 10. (800) 838-3006, theprodco.com. Produced by The Production Company.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 3 p.m. Starts: March 5. Continues through April 10, 2010