By the time the cast, crew, and creative team of When the Rain Falls reached O'Neals restaurant last night, for a supper celebrating their first preview, they had had a long day. Snowmageddon - the blizzard that blanketed New York the day before - had helped force the postponement of the play's dress rehearsal from Wednesday evening to the afternoon of the first preview. If you thought this merely made Thursday a normal two-show day, you'd be mistaken. During a show's regular run, two-show days don't happen at the end of a long week of technical rehearsals, as they did in this instance.

All these hours of hard work, however, were barely evident at O'Neals on the faces of the actors: the elation and relief of completing their first show in front of an audience were a boost. Looking similarly fresh was the playwright, Andrew Bovell, who had returned from his home in Australia that same day - a trip almost as long as Diane Keaton's trek through the tundra to find Warren Beatty in Reds.

At Oneals, I told Bovell he was lucky not to have been travelling the day before. "But I heard the city looked beautiful," he replied. "I'm sorry to have missed the snowfall. Yesterday I was at home in Australia, where it had been 40 degrees Celsius [104 degrees Fahrenheit]. Now, I'm in the midst of winter."

I remarked that such a journey was appropriate to his play, which deals in extreme weather. "Yes," he joked, "perhaps we should change the title to When the Snow Stops Falling."

BRENDAN LEMON is the American theater critic for the Financial Times and the editor of