whale rain 3D

Occasional productions have used rain, perhaps at the end of ACT ONE. Its easy, really.

Element One: Making it Rain

Making water fall from the ceiling is very simple, given the right tools. In addition, hardly any water falls, but it looks and sounds from the audience viewpoint, that a torrential downpour is occurring.

The Recipe Ingredients


One 4 inch PVC pipe the length of the stage and two end caps for same


appropriate couplings for PVC runs longer than length of PVC pipe


PVC cement and cleaner


One coupling for a garden hose


An electric drill with a 1/16 drill bit for water holes and appropriate bit for garden hose coupling


A length of garden hose to the nearest water source


catch basins to be constructed out of wood and described further below


plastic sheeting to line catch basins


appropriate stage hardware to suspend the apparatus

How to construct it

Lay out the PVC pipe on the stage below its resting place. Cement together the PVC pipe, if necessary, for longer runs with an appropriate coupling. On one end cap, drill a hole in the appropriate size to accommodate the garden hose inlet piece. Glue that into place. Then glue on the end caps.

Mark a straight line from end to end of the PVC. Drill small holes approximately every inch the length of the rain run.

Build catch basins. The rain comes down straight, so the catch basins do not need to be that wide. Owosso used three basins that were eight inches deep, eight feet long and two foot wide. They could have been narrower. In fact, with the amount of water that actually comes out, they could have been skipped altogether since the rain closes the first act and the stage crew could have mopped up the stage during intermission. However, the front of the catch basins are a wave set piece, made of Luan and painted blue. PIP pulls her little ship across the stage behind the basins. The little ship is on uneven wheels to make it pitch as it moves.

Truly you will be surprised by the small about of water necessary to achieve this effect. The Owosso stage crew never even emptied the catch basins during the entire run of the show, including two dress rehearsals. More water was used to adjust the lights than to run the show five times. Line the basins with plastic sheeting to collect the water.

Here is the trick. The angle of the PVC run must be adjusted so that the rain starts flowing out all holes at once. A level PVC run will result in rain sweeping across the stage from the garden hose inlet to the other end. Once the angle is adjusted for your theater, hang the pipe in your location, making sure you miss other elements in the ceiling you don't want wet.

Time how long it takes the water to travel to the PVC once it is turned on and incorporate this into the stage manager's directions.

Element Two: Lighting the Rain

All of this will be missed if the lighting is not set appropriately to see the rain. Side lights and down lighting seemed to work best from all the options Owosso ran through.


Audiences delight in snow scenes. It reminds them of the holiday times. Even if they are from a warm climate area, snow is ingrained in their minds as a nice thing if it is falling gently and the music sounds fun and bouncy.

MAPPLE, the Quaker preacher, sings about snow in his song "Jonah Fell" while it snows outside his church window.

Snow is usually made of plastic material similar to that one might find in most white plastic supermarket grocery bags. The flakes are cut or shredded into pieces about the size of a fingertip.

The snow just has to be released. A stage hand could stand in a loft area and throw it out like Rip Taylor, but a better solution for even snow across the stage is to construct a sifting device which dumps the snow over its edge as it is slowly turned. Best of all would be a muslin hammock hung over the snow area with appropriately sized holes evenly spaced which is rocked back and forth by stage hands to allow the plastic snow to some out.