Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Theater review: State Fair at Cleburne Conference Center
A charming musical that is appropriate for all ages.
Since I am from Texas when someone mentions the State Fair I automatically get excited. Every year you can expect corn dogs, cotton candy, cold beer, fried food, Big Tex, and the infamous football game between Texas and Oklahoma. There is something comforting and exciting knowing that the fair is happening. Rodgers and Hammerstein explore these universal feelings with their musical State Fair (presented by Greater Cleburne Carnegie Players at Cleburne Conference Center through July 15).
State Fair takes place in Iowa where an anxious small town couple Abel and Melissa Frake are ready to compete in the State Fair and take home all of the prizes. Their children Wayne and Margy are ready to compete as well to see if the fair might be the place they find true love.
State Fair is filled with big dance numbers, beautiful music, and laughs throughout. The show stays true to what it says, “always leave them laughing.”
Rick Briscoe and Shannon Loose give a wonderful performance as Abel and Melissa Frake. Briscoe and Loose have so much chemistry on stage it is hard to imagine them not being a couple in real life. They work well with each other, and make their characters easy to fall in love with. Briscoe and Loose make the show for me.
Sarah Scarlett was absolutely breathtaking on stage as Margy Frake. Scarlett has a beautiful singing voice and is able to keep her voice controlled while belting out the notes. Scarlett brings the right amount of innocence and youth to her portrayal of the small town girl looking for big love.
Zane Loose is one of the strongest actors in the show. He has great delivery and understanding of the character Wayne Frake. Zane Loose is delightful to watch on stage.
Robert Twaddell is the right choice for the character Pat Gilbert. Twaddell was charming, and has the best voice out the guys. Twaddell not only captures the role of Pat Gilbert, but the hearts of all the audience members.
Marcie Allison gives the right amount of depth and personality to the character Emily Arden. Allison has one of the hardest characters to play since Arden has an intense secret to be revealed at the end of the show. Allison keeps the audience guessing, and gets a huge gasp at the end for her believability.
The entire cast does a really good job, but the men’s ensemble and Jennifer Moore’s portrayal of Judge Heppenstahl stole my attention. The men’s ensemble has flawless harmony. Any time the men’s group gets together I got excited because their voices remind me of an old barber shop quartet. Moore takes the spot light when she judges the food at the fair. Moore grasps comedy and reminded me of the famous I Love Lucy episode “Vitameatavegamin.”
Kate Hicks has directed a wonderful musical, and captured the essence of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical. The comical aspect of the show is what I was most impressed with. If you are not paying attention, you might just miss the joke.
The set and lights worked well with the show. Instead of an intricate set the audience has to use their imagination and be able to recognize where the action is taking place with a few implying set pieces. The simplistic nature of the set allows the scene changes to happen quickly, and the audience members travel through many different places.
Choreography by Keli Price is energetic and capturing. There are moments when the movement is repetitive, and the intensity of the movement did not match some of the climatic measures of music. Price still does a great job of creating entertaining ensemble numbers and solo pieces.
State Fair is a charming musical that is appropriate for all ages. Come see the musical that will get you anxious for upcoming months when our state fair occurs. Carnegie Players sing the truth about the musical when they say, “Our state fair is a great state fair, don’t miss it, don't even be late.”
Pegasus News Content partner - John Garcia's The Column
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