Rossford getting set for ‘State Fair’

Students ready to perform classic musical

‘State Fair'  castmates from left: Nolan Duly (who plays Able), Payton Lechner (Lena), Chandler Horton (Clara), and Katie Taylor (Henrietta) rehearse a scene for the musical at Rossford High School.
‘State Fair' castmates from left: Nolan Duly (who plays Able), Payton Lechner (Lena), Chandler Horton (Clara), and Katie Taylor (Henrietta) rehearse a scene for the musical at Rossford High School.

The Drama Club at Rossford High School has been working hard on State Fair, its big spring musical extravaganza. Word is getting out, and hopes are high that the performances on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday will be sold out.

The cast and crew number more than 50. Director Julie Zatko and her assistant, Ryan Mahaffey, even included junior high students, such was the demand for bodies.

“For us, that’s a huge number,” she said. “But this is a big production, and we're happy to include as many people as possible.”

Ms. Zatko said rehearsals began in January. All performances in the high school auditorium are at 7:30 p.m., except the 2 p.m. Sunday matinee.

Tickets are $10 for students and senior citizens and $12 for adults. The performance runs about 2.5 hours, with a 15-minute intermission. Tickets purchased in advance get a $2 discount. For information, email or call 419-666-5262.

State Fair originated as a 1932 novel of the same title by Phil Stong, who as a youth worked in the dairy pavilion at the Iowa State Fair. It became the basis for three movies and a Broadway musical. The 1945 movie is the only Rogers and Hammerstein musical written directly for film. Its popular songs include “It’s a Grand Night for Singing,” “That’s for Me,” and “It Might as Well Be Spring.”

The stage version opened in 1996, with the addition of other Rogers and Hammerstein songs. The story revolves around the Frake farm family of Iowa and their experiences at the 1946 state fair.

D. J. Hiner, the production’s vocal and instrumental director, said rehearsals have been going well, thanks in no small part to the senior class members in the production who have been good role models for the younger performers.

“The seniors have been around for a while and know how to lead by example,” said Mr. Hiner, who teaches vocal at the high school and junior high. “That’s important, because we have a number of kids who are doing this for the first time.”

Ms. Zatko said State Fair was selected because “We wanted to do a classic musical. Everybody has seen The Sound of Music. Everybody can sing ‘Oklahoma.’ So we decided on State Fair. We wanted something that would appeal to the whole family, and State Fair doesy.”

She said the production will cost about $15,000, with rights and permissions accounting for about $4,000. The Drama Club has been husbanding its resources, she said, and “this is the big show of the year.”

Senior Sarah Gerren plays Margy Frake, the farm family daughter who is looking for romance. For her, the best part of her performance is the singing.

“I always enjoy doing musicals because I get to sing,” she explained.

Junior Stephanie Hiner portrays Emily Arden, a jazz singer from Detroit who is performing in Iowa before heading to New York to seek fame. Wayne Frake, the farm family son falls for her, but she breaks his heart, Stephanie explained.

“It’s a good role. I love the music,” she said.