This spring, the Frake family will not be denied victory at the Iowa State Fair.
And the Frakes have some crazy agendas heading into the beloved fair. Papa Abel Frake is confident his boar will earn him a pretty blue ribbon. His wife, Melissa, wants to outshine her rival with her specialty mincemeat and pickles. Their son, Wayne, has been practicing all year to win his money back from a game vendor. And Wayne's sister, Margy, needs some time away from her beau to consider whether she's ready for marriage.
Shuffle in some romance, gorgeous ballads and lyrics, and you'll get a better visual of the fun awaiting you in Middletown High School's spring musical "State Fair," which launches Thursday. Show dates run through Saturday. The production features music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, with the book by Tom Briggs and Louis Mattioli.
"State Fair" is a rotund and energetic production, showcasing a cast of 70-plus performers, of which more than two dozen of the singers have been selected for the esteemed all-state chorus, said director and choreographer Amanda Chas, of Middletown.
"The voices are phenomenal — lovely, lovely voices," beamed Chas, who also teaches drama at Middletown High.
The footwork in "State Fair" isn't, too, shabby either.
"The dancing is pretty topnotch," she said. "I've thrown a lot of country swing at the kids." Her cast can be seen "flipping off each other, and over each other, [so] you always have to pay attention to what's happening at all times," she added.
'Set' for success
Then there's the incredible set, which includes a partial Ferris wheel that lights up, and various fair games and attractions like an arm-wrestling kissing booth, the Temple of Wonder (an attraction with dancing girls), a shooting gallery and a strong-man game (the classic game where you use a hammer to ring a bell). This is the same game Wayne has been intently practicing for.
Though it's not part of the set, it's worth mentioning that the mass swarm of fairgoers on stage is important to helping the show feel alive.
"We have lots of people at the fair," Chas said. "There's a lot of hoedown, rootin'-tootin' good fun."