'STATE FAIR' High-energy troupe excels in vintage play

The multifaceted production profits from talents of experienced actors.
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- Charming. Enchanting. Tender. Those are some words that could describe the performance of "State Fair," the current musical at New Castle Playhouse. But don't let that fool you. This is also one high-energy show -- all the right stuff to feed the soul on these hot, sticky summer days.
Rodgers and Hammerstein's "State Fair" was written as a movie, and later adapted as a stage play, set in Iowa, 1946. It takes the audience back to a simpler time, when folks got excited over pickle judging and prize pigs.
The story centers around the Frake family, and their trip to the State Fair in Des Moines. Melissa and Abel Frake go to the fair in the hopes of winning blue ribbons, but their kids, Wayne and Margy, grow up and learn about love.
From the time the curtain rose, the audience knew the show would be fun. The enthusiastic cast seemed to enjoy every minute on stage.
The main characters were superb. Bryana Servedio as Margy, and Timothy Falter, as Pat Gilbert, the newspaper reporter with whom Margy falls in love, captured the hearts of the audience. Their scenes together were magical, both in singing and dancing.
Falter's Gene Kelly-style solo dances were flawless and brilliant. It should come as no surprise that this well-seasoned professional performer formerly played the starring role in "Singin' in the Rain" in Atlantic City, N.J., at the Trump Plaza Hotel, then later in Hollywood, Fla., where Falter performed for Debbie Reynolds.
Servedio was named the Lawrence County Outstanding Young Woman last year, and graduated in the top three of her New Castle High School class. Her beautiful singing voice delighted the audience. She plans to study musical theater at Tisch School of the Arts at New York University in the fall.
Nathan Zuzack's portrayal of Wayne seemed effortless. His gentle innocence, contrasting with Kali Davies, as the less-than innocent dance hall gal, Emily Arden, provided some of the most memorable moments of the evening.
Davies recently studied professional theater at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. Her sultry and seductive song and dance scenes set the stage on fire.
Hans Kraus and Stephanie Holt, played a convincing Mr. and Mrs. Frake, the foundations of the family. Their scenes together were tender and affectionate. Both are YSU graduates.
Beginning to end
The production flowed seamlessly. Numerous set changes were done in an instant. The sets themselves were visually pleasing. The Frake farmhouse was particularly interesting. The costumes were simple and quaint, with the exception of the red-hot number worn by Emily.
There were some humorous moments, too. Like the quartet of farmers singing a love song to their pigs. And the mincemeat judging event at the fair, where Mrs. Frake's brandy-spiked concoction gained quite a bit of attention. Or the tap dancing cow and pig, played by Christina Sansone and Amber Ardolino. Seventh-grader Ardolino, the youngest member of the cast, also played Violet, and was a real charmer.
The exuberant group song and dance numbers had the crowd clapping and tapping. The finale to Act One, "It's a Grand Night for Singing," and "All I Owe Ioway," from Act Two, brought the house down. The evening ended with cheers and a standing ovation.
This show is a feel-good, family fun event, highly recommended.
XFor tickets/info: (724) 654-3437

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