America's Oldest · Founded 1808

Tour the Midway with Rodgers and Hammerstein's STATE FAIR!

August 11, 2008

PHILADELPHIA, PA: The Walnut Street Theatre opens its landmark 200th anniversary season with STATE FAIR. This new production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic features a magical score that includes such timeless classics as "It Might As Well Be Spring" and "It's A Grand Night For Singing," STATE FAIR will be a fun-filled and uplifting start to the Walnut's bicentennial season. The production runs Sept. 2 through Oct. 19 on the Walnut Street Theatre Mainstage.

Set against the colorful backdrop of a grand tradition of the American Heartland, STATE FAIR takes us on the road with the Frake family as they leave behind the hum-drum routine of farm life for three days of fun and adventure at the annual Iowa State Fair. Parents Abel and Melissa Frake (Mark Jacoby and Dee Hoty) have their hearts set on blue ribbons while their children (daughter Margy, played by Cary Michele Miller and son Wayne, played by Joe Jackson) have other things in mind, namely finding a little romance on the midway. Set to the magical strains of an Academy Award-winning score and augmented by other titles from the Rodgers and Hammerstein songbook, STATE FAIR is the kind of magical and warm-hearted story that harkens back a simpler time on the American landscape.

STATE FAIR has had a storied and starry life, starting out as a hit novel from Iowa native Phil Stong. The book proved so popular that a feature film version starring Will Rodgers was completed and released not six months after the appearance of the novel. After being nominated for the 1933 Academy Award for Best Picture, the story was remade into a movie musical by Rodgers and Hammerstein in 1945. The only musical the duo ever wrote specifically for the screen was an immense hit, and scored the Oscar for Best Original Song for "It Might As Well Be Spring." Another popular film remake followed in 1962 starring Pat Boone, Bobby Darin and Ann Margaret.

In the 1990's Louis Mattioli and Tom Briggs began work on finally bringing STATE FAIR to the stage. The two expanded on the six original songs by adding unused and alternate material from the Rodgers and Hammerstein catalogue, fashioning a cohesive score from many different parts. Included in the new work were pieces originally earmarked for Oklahoma! ("When I Go Out Walkin' With My Baby" and "Boys and Girls Like You and Me"), Me and Juliet ("That's The Way it Happens" and "You Never Had it so Good"), Allegro ("So Far") and Pipe Dream ("The Man I used to Be," The Next Time it Happens"). What followed was a score filled with Rodgers and Hammerstein gems which blended beautifully with the original songs set in 1940's small town middle America. Rodgers and Hammerstein's STATE FAIR debuted on Broadway in 1996 and garnered a Tony Award nomination for Best Original Score.

Guiding this tale of love on the midway is Barrymore-Award winning director Bruce Lumpkin (Walnut credits include last season's Man of La Mancha, Cabaret, Evita, Grand Hotel, La Vie En Bleu, Godspell and Rodgers and Hammerstein's Carousel). Longtime Music and Vocal Director Douglass G. Lutz (Les Misérables "