State Fair is a musical with a book by Tom Briggs and Louis Mattioli, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, and music by Richard Rodgers.
Rodgers and Hammerstein originally adapted the Phil Stong novel of the same name for a 1945 movie musical, which was remade in 1962. The stage production closely follows the plot of its predecessors, providing a glimpse into the life of the farming Frake family and their three-day adventure at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines in 1946. While parents Abel and Melissa are hoping to win a few blue ribbons, siblings Margy and Wayne are more interested in finding romance on the midway.
In 1969, The Muny in St. Louis presented the world stage premiere of State Fair starring Ozzie and Harriet Nelson with Ron Husmann, Jerry Lanning, Bonnie Schon, Carol Richards, Tom Pedi, Tommy Tune and Lawrence Leritz (stage debut) in the children's chorus. The production was directed by James Hammerstein, supervised by Richard Rodgers and also choreographed by Tommy Tune. Additional songs included in this production were three from "Me & Juliet"; "It's Me!", "Keep It Gay" and "Marriage Type Love" and a new one, "Away From Home."
The musical was revived with a lengthy national tour, opening at the 1995 Iowa State Fair at the Civic Center of Greater Des Moines on August 12. After 8 previews, the Broadway production, co-directed by James Hammerstein (Oscar's son) and Randy Skinner and choreographed by Skinner opened on March 27, 1996 at the Music Box Theatre, where it ran for 110 performances. The cast included, as the Frake family John Davidson as Abel, Kathryn Crosby as Melissa, Andrea McArdle as Margy, and Ben Wright as Wayne, with Donna McKechnie (Emily) and Scott Wise (Pat) as the love interests. Susan Egan took over the role of Margy part way through the run.. The Set Design was by James Leonard Joy,the Costume Design by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case, and the Lighting Designer was Natasha Katz.
On the 3rd August 2010 the Finborough Theatre production opened at London's Trafalgar Studios 2, Starring Philip Rham, Karl Clarkson, Laura Main and Susan Travers. The show opened to generally positive reviews with The Guardian quoting "It's a great night out, and as exhilarating as a hoedown". Due to excess demand the original closing date of 29th August was extended 2 weeks to the 11th September.
The Frake family of Iowa make plans to attend the State Fair in late summer 1946. Father Abel Frake has hopes that his boar will win a prize; his wife Melissa is entering her mincemeat. Daughter Margy is upset with her beau's (Harry) plans for their life together ("It Might as Well Be Spring"). The family heads for the fair ("Driving at Night/Our State Fair"), where son Wayne meets Emily Arden, a singer, and falls instantly in love ("That's for Me"). Meanwhile, Melissa's mincemeat has won a Blue Ribbon. Margy meets Pat, a reporter, and a mutual romantic attraction develops.
On the last day of the fair, Abel's boar wins the Blue Ribbon, Emily breaks off the growing relationship with Wayne, and Pat must leave for a new job. Back home, Wayne returns to his old girlfriend Eleanor. Pat arrives unexpectedly and asks Margy to marry him.
- Act I
- Opening -- Abel Frake, Melissa Frake and Wayne Frake
- It Might as Well Be Spring *-- Margy Frake
- Driving at Night/Our State Fair * -- Abel Frake, Melissa Frake, Wayne Frake, Margy Frake and Company
- That's for Me *-- Wayne Frake
- More Than Just a Friend *-- Abel Frake, Hank Munson, Lem, and Clay
- Isn't It Kinda Fun? *-- Pat Gilbert and Margy Frake
- Isn't It Kinda Fun? * (Reprise) -- Margy Frake
- You Never Had It So Good (cut from Me and Juliet) -- Emily Arden and Fairtones
- It Might as Well Be Spring (Reprise) -- Margy Frake
- When I Go Out Walking With My Baby (cut from Oklahoma!) -- Abel Frake and Melissa Frake
- So Far (from Allegro) -- Wayne Frake and Emily Arden
- It's a Grand Night for Singing * -- Company
- Act II
- Man I Used to Be (from Pipe Dream) -- Pat Gilbert, Vivian, and Jeanne
- All I Owe Ioway * -- Abel Frake and Company
- Man I Used to Be (Reprise) -- Pat Gilbert
- That's the Way It Happens (from Me and Juliet)-- Emily Arden and Fairtones
- Boys and Girls Like You and Me (cut from Oklahoma! and included in some productions of Cinderella, though not the original) -- Abel Frake and Melissa Frake
- Next Time It Happens (from Pipe Dream) -- Margy Frake
- Finale Ultimo -- Company
- Notes on the music
The five songs from the original 1945 film score were supplemented by others that were either featured in, or cut from, other Rodgers and Hammerstein shows. One, "More Than Just a Friend," was written by Rodgers for the 1962 film remake after Hammerstein's death. "Driving at Night" was created by co-director James Hammerstein and Bruce Pomahac with music from Allegro.   The starred songs (above) were in the original 1945 or 1962 films.
The 1996 Original Broadway Cast recording is on DRG Records 94765 (CD/CS).
- Tony Award for Best Original Score
- Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical (Wise)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical (Wright and Wise)
- Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical (McKechnie)
- ^ Variety, Joseph Hurley, Legit: Broadway & The Road, October 9, 1995 - October 15, 1995
- ^ IBDB.com - Susan Egan's credits on Broadway
- ^ Information from the RNH website
- ^ New York Times, Vincent Canby, March 28, 1996
- ^ Rodgers and Hammerstein listing