After a seven-year hiatus, a beloved island-centric variety show, The Church of Great Rain, will reincarnate on Vashon at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at Open Space for Arts & Community.
The original show — which many considered to be Vashon’s answer to Prairie Home Companion — launched in 2008 as a modest affair, playing to small, die-hard crowds at the Red Bicycle Bistro & Sushi. Full of Vashon humor and island talent, the show grew in popularity — ultimately moving to the cavernous Open Space for Arts & Community, where it routinely filled all 600 seats, making it the biggest event of the island. It also grew in complexity, becoming a much more polished and seamless series of skits, musical performances and monologues.
And although the monthly show was last performed in 2012, some of its original creators have never stopped hearing from islanders that they’d like to see it return.
“We’ve always had random people ask us when Church is coming back,” said David Godsey, co-founder of Open Space. “But in the past eight months, there has been a really noticeable increase in the frequency of people asking … My take on it is that people are increasingly really needing something in their lives that this show provides.”
Godsey, who will recreate his role the Rev. Hunter Davis, the pin-striped, proselytizing host of the show, described the Church of Great Rain as “a place where we can come together and share our humanity and some deep belly laughs.”
The rebooted show will boast a few of its original cast members and writers, including Jeanne Dougherty, Janet McAlpin, Jon Whalen and Jeff and Cindy Hoyt. They will be joined in the Oct. 13 performance by returning members Mik Kuhlman, Lyn McManus, Steffon Moody and Jim Farrell, as well as several new performers to be announced soon.
“We’re looking to add some younger actors this go-round as the original cast was old-ish to begin with and now we’re all seven years older,” said Jeff Hoyt. “I’m sure there are jokes to be mined there.”
Hoyt said that in recent weeks, he and his wife Cindy have been at work writing new comedy skits for the revamped show and have found the work invigorating.
“We thought we’d go for a soft landing in this first show and mostly re-mount and update sketches from the old show,” Hoyt said. “Then the familiar comedy creative juices started flowing and some new ideas emerged out of everything that’s changed around here since the old show.”
Hoyt credited Cindy with having the best comedic brain in their husband-wife writing duo.
“I was the head writer of the original show but Cindy was the show’s true creative ‘secret weapon,’” he said. “She wrote some of our best stuff while editing and tightening all of our sketches and then somehow making them funnier with a perfectly placed joke. Now, she has picked right back up where she left off with this reboot.”
The show will also feature a new band made up of island musicians. Adam Creighton, veteran bandleader for 14/48 playwriting festivals in Seattle and Vashon, will be the band leader of the show. Anthony Winkler, also known for his work with the 14/48 festivals, will serve as artistic director of the rebooted Church.
The door for The Church of Great Rain will open at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13, at Open Space, for pre-Church socializing, with the performance starting at 4 p.m. Tickets range in price from $15 for general seating to $25 for table seats. For youth ages 18 and younger, there are a limited number of free tickets online. For more information and to reserve tickets, visit openspacevashon.com.