It's the Fourth of July, 1936, and the small southwestern town of Three Point is experiencing a blistering heat wave ("Another Hot Day"). Lizzy Curry, a cheerful, fiercely intelligent thirty-ish spinster, regretfully accepts that no man outside her family has ever loved her or found her beautiful. But her rancher father, HC, and brothers urge her to pursue a romance with Sheriff File by dressing up and bringing a tasty lunch to the town picnic. Lizzy reluctantly agrees ("Love, Don't Turn Away").
Sheriff File is resistant to the Curry brothers' plan ("Poker Polka"), and refuses to join "The Hungry Men" at the picnic. Lizzie, stung by File's rejection, is heartbroken. Suddenly, a stranger named Bill Starbuck arrives in town, claiming he can bring an end to the town's drought for a payment of $100 ("The Rain Song"). HC, intrigued by Starbuck's charm, gives him the money. Lizzie, however, is scornful, and she and Starbuck butt heads ("You're Not Foolin' Me"). Lizzie playfully imagines herself living a different sort of life ("Raunchy"). File does show up at the picnic, and he shares some painful truths with Lizzie ("A Man and A Woman"). Her attempts at flirtation drive him away, though, and she's left alone to contemplate her future as an "Old Maid."
Evening sets upon the picnic ("Everything Beautiful Happens At Night") and Lizzie is inexplicably drawn to the quiet of Starbuck's camp. Alone with Lizzie, Starbuck urges her to dream beyond her small town ("Melisande"), but she defends her desire for "Simple Little Things." Starbuck encourages Lizzie to see her own beauty, and the lights fade as they embrace.
Back at the picnic, Lizzie's brother Jimmy boasts of his own romantic exploits ("Little Red Hat"). File enters, seeking a fugitive con man, whom he strongly suspects is Starbuck. HC, understanding that Lizzie needs to make a connection with a man, refuses to reveal their whereabouts. Meanwhile, Starbuck confesses to Lizzie that he's never actually conjured any rain, and she privately wonders whether it's best to live somewhere in between dreams and real life ("Is It Really Me?")
Lizzie and Starbuck return to the picnic, and File makes a plea for Lizzie's affections ("Wonderful Music"). Lizzie must make a choice, and with newfound self-assurance, she chooses a quiet life with Sheriff File. Starbuck drives off into the distance, and suddenly the heavens open, bathing the townspeople in glorious, nourishing rain ("Finale: The Rain Song").
The Curry Family
Lizzie Curry - At first glance, she seems a woman who can cope with all the aspects of life. She has the world of materiality under control; she is a good housekeeper; pots and pans, needles and thread – when she touches them, they serve. She knows well where she fits in the family – she is daughter, sister, mother, child – and she enjoys the manifold elements of her position. She has a sure ownership of her own morality, for the tenets of right and wrong are friendly to her – and she is comfortably forthright in living by them. A strong and integral woman in every life function – except one. Here she is, thirty-ish, and no man outside the family has loved her or found her beautiful. And yet, ironically, it is this one unfulfilled part of Lizzie that is the most potentially beautiful facet of the woman – this yearning for romance – this courageous searching for it in the desert of her existence… And if some day a man should find her, he will find a ready woman, willing to give herself with the totality of her rich being.
H. C. Curry, Lizzie’s father - He is in his late fifties, powerfully set, capable, a good man to take store in. But he’s not all prosaic efficiency – there’s a dream in him.
Noah Curry, Lizzie’s older brother - He is somewhat like his father, without H.C.’s imagination. As a matter of fact, he has little imagination at all and would appear to be self-righteous and rigidly opinionated, were it not for his basic decency and his warm yearning to be kind.
Jimmy Curry, Lizzie’s younger brother - In his early twenties but big and broad-shouldered, he looks older than his years until he opens his mouth; then he’s a child. He’s not sure that he’s very bright and this is his great cross. He is filled with inchoate longing.
Bill Starbuck - A big man, lithe, agile – a loud braggart, a gentle dreamer. He carries a short hickory stick – it is his weapon, his pointer, his magic wand, his pride of manhood.
File, The sheriff - He is a lean man, reticent, intelligent, in his late thirties. He smiles wryly at the world and at himself. Perhaps he is a little bitter; if so, his bitterness is leavened by a mischievous humor.
Snookie Updegraff - She is perhaps seventeen, and pretty and pretty, and pretty, and pretty, and pretty. Which is to say she is pretty.
Townspeople of Threepoint
Toby, the middle aged stationmaster
Mrs. Jessen, fat, middle-aged and good-natured
Phil Mackey, about nineteen
Tommy, a boy of eight
Belinda, a spectacled girl of nine
Geshy Toops, a man in his thirties
Gil Demby, a boy in his teens
Olive Barrow, a pretty girl
Wally Skacks, a boy in his late teens
Maurine Toops, a girl in her twenties
Bo Dollivon, a boy in his twenties
Mr. Curtis, a minister
Wally Skacks, an old man
Other townspeople to dance and sing – of all ages and descriptions, not necessarily – please! – not necessarily all good looking. Real people.