VSU Theatre and Dance Opens 'State Fair' on Thursday

March 26, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

VSU Theatre and Dance Opens 'State Fair' on Thursday


VALDOSTA -- Valdosta State University Theatre and Dance plans to take American musical theatre fans on a five-day adventure back to August 1946, to the Frake farm in Brunswick, Iowa, and the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines. The fun starts when the house lights dim and the curtain rises at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 29, on Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “State Fair.”

A musical with book by Louis Mattioli and Tom Briggs, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and music by Richard Rodgers, “State Fair” provides a glimpse into the lives of the Frake family and their three-day adventure at the Iowa State Fair. The parents, Abel and Melissa, hope to win a few blue ribbons. The children, Margy and Wayne, hope to find a little romance on the midway.

“State fairs are the heart of the rural community, whether in Iowa or Georgia,” noted Jacque Wheeler, director, as well as professor and VSU Theatre and Dance Area head. “They are a chance to meet friends, be entertained, swap stories, and celebrate all the good things in nature. Certainly, 1946 was a simpler time, both in farming and in life. There was no high-tech equipment, and a $5 bet was a significant investment. But people fall in love, whether it’s 1946 or 2012. There is a magic at the fair, riding the Ferris wheel, holding a blue balloon, or eating cotton candy.”

Rodgers and Hammerstein originally adapted Phil Strong’s novel of the same name for a 1945 movie musical. It was remade in 1962. It was later adapted for the stage, and in 1996, “State Fair” made its Broadway debut.

“Besides some delightful hoe-down music, this show provides great swing era songs and dances that give much more depth to the musical than what you would imagine from the title,” said Eric Brandt Nielsen, choreographer, as well as professor and VSU Dance Program coordinator, adding that audiences are certain to “hum as they leave the theatre. How many musicals can you say that about?”

Sponsored by Jerry and Kay Jennett, VSU Theatre and Dance will present “State Fair” at 7:30 p.m. March 29-30, 3 p.m. April 1, and 7:30 p.m. April 2-4 in Sawyer Theatre on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building, located on the corner of Brookwood Drive and Oak Street. Tickets are $15 for adults; $12 for senior citizens; $10 for children, non-VSU students, and groups of 10 or more at a single performance; and free for VSU students with identification.

“This entertaining production is a real showcase for the fine talents of our Theatre and Dance students,” said Dr. Louis H. Levy, interim VSU president.

For advance reservations, please call the VSU Theatre and Dance Box Office between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday at (229) 333-5973. Tickets can be picked up outside Sawyer Theatre approximately 30 minutes prior to curtain. Reserved tickets not picked up within 15 minutes of curtain are subject to release to the waiting list.


Scenic Design: R. Keith Pugh

Lighting Design: Elie Siegel

Costume Design: Esther Iverson

Technical Director: Michael Driggers

Conductor: Joseph H. Brashier

Musical Director: Christopher Bailey

Production Dramaturg: Deborah Morgan

Director: Jacque Wheeler

Choreographer: Eric Brandt Nielsen

Production Staff: Abby Vincent (stage manager); Leslie Kirby and Caleb Spivey (assistant stage manager); Pattie Angier (light board operator); Matthew Moran (sound board operator); Travis Hunnewell and Julia Polshak (running crew); Jessie Holtsclaw, Christina Jones, and Genna Kasun (wardrobe crew); Dorothy Barnes and Luke Newsome (wig stylists); Jonathan Butts and Julia Polshak (spotlight operators); Travis Hunnewell (fly operator); Elie Siegel (master electrician); Ryan Ponsell (sound engineer); Genna Kasun (properties master); Melanie Harkness (scenic charge); Joe Muncy (scene shop supervisor); Ryan Ponsell and Rebecca Morris (carpenters); THEA 2750 and THEA 3720 (scene shop volunteers and costume shop volunteers); Kathy Raess-Young (costume shop supervisor); Rebecca Hueguet and Patrice Trower (costume shop assistants); Emih Abrahamson (box office manager); Mike Burson and Sydney Perry (house managers)

Cast: Luke Newsome (Abel Frake); Will Stanley (Gus); Leigha Witt (Margy Frake); Susanna Agnew (Melissa Frake); Chance Wall (Wayne Frake); Ethan Glass (Dave Miller); Kelsey Russo (Eleanor); Josh Barcol (Harry); Ethan Parker (Hoop-La Barker); Jessica Mathis (Emily Arden); Andrew Ritfield (Stralenko); Tess Buis (Vivian); Haley Sheppard (Jeanne); Tim Olivar (Pat); Matt Hogan (Charlie); Blake Fountain (Lem); Andrew Miller (Clay); Michael McClain (Hank); Jacob Brinson (Chief of Police); Olivia Kramer (Violet); Blake Fountain (Judge Heppenstahl); Katie Rondello (Mrs. Metcalf); Emmanuel Davis, Devante Graham, Ethan Parker, and Will Stanley (fairtones); Will Stanley and Devante Graham (roustabouts); Amber J. Austin, Antoinette Williams, Leah Kelly, Sharia Stripling, and Jennifer Jackson (dancers); Leah Kelly (dance captain); Emelie Axford, Lauren Evans, Andrea Johnson, Natassia Johnson, Caitlin Miller, Jessica Moss, Chela North, Katie Rondello, Crystal Williams, Jacob Brinson, and Tyrell Ruffin (fairgoers, farm folk, fair workers, etc.)