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The audience will be the winners at this weekend’s “State Fair”

KEY CHARACTERS OF WASHINGTON MIDDLE SCHOOL’S “STATE FAIR” pose during Monday’s dress rehearsal. Pictured, l-r: Taylor Donalson, Morgan Blough, Casey Elkins, Carissa Sadler, Bryan Lewis and Kinsasha Davis.

The Washington Middle School Drama Club will transport audiences to the Iowa State Fair with its production of  Rodgers’ and Hammerstein’s “State Fair,” this weekend. A cast of about 45 middle school students and young extras will present the acclaimed musical Friday and Saturday at Cairo High School’s auditorium. Showtimes are 7: 30 p.m., April 3 and 4, with an additional show at 2:30 p.m. on April 4. Tickets will be sold at the door, $5 for adults and $3 for students.
“This is the second time the club has presented the rollicking, good fun show,” says Drama Director Pat Orr, “the last time was 2002. Those thespians are now college students and a new group brings the play to the CHS auditorium stage.”
Not all of those students are in college. Morgan Blough was a youngster who performed as an extra in the 2002 performance when her sister, Brittany, was part of the cast. Now a WMS student herself, Morgan has a lead in the play, performing the role of Margy.
“State Fair” is the story of one family’s experience at the Iowa State Fair. Each member of the family is going to the fair expecting to gain something. Abel Frake (father) is sure that Blue Boy, his huge boar hog, is going to win a blue ribbon. He is so sure that he bets his friend, Dave Miller, $5 that the family will go to the fair, Blue Boy will win and nothing bad will happen to any family member. Melissa Frake (mother) is going to show her mincemeat, which has never won before, but she is hopeful this year. Margy Frake (daughter) is trying to decide if she wants to marry her school friend, Harry. Wayne (son) is looking for adventure after being disappointed by his girlfriend who cannot go to the fair. The big question of the story is, will Dave or Abel win the bet?
Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote many musicals that have become favorites and, in most cases, the Broadway play preceded the Hollywood version. That was not the case with “State Fair.” Two movies were filmed, one in 1946 and the other in 1962, before the Broadway play debuted. The Broadway play opened on Mar. 27, 1996, a version of the 1945 film.
The WMS production of the play is under the direction of Ms. Orr, with musical direction by Judy Pollock and choreography by Krystal Gainous. There are about 35 middle school students in the cast, along with 10 extras between the ages of four and nine who are younger brothers and sisters of cast members. Casey Elkins portrays Abel Frake; Carissa Sadler is Melissa; and Bryan Lewis plays Wayne. Other characters include Taylor Donalson as a press reporter, and Kinsasha Davis as a bar singer.

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