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Broadway at Bethel to present State Fair

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NORTH NEWTON, KAN. – Broadway at Bethel, an annual production featuring high school students, will bring an old-fashioned American musical, State Fair, to the Krehbiel Auditorium stage.

Structured as a music theater camp, Broadway at Bethel places talented students under the direction of Bethel College faculty, staff and alumni to stage and produce a major show in one week. State Fair will be performed Sunday, June 21, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 general admission and are available at Thresher Bookstore in Schultz Student Center on the Bethel campus (open until 4 p.m. Friday, June 19; phone 316-284-5205) or, if tickets are left, Sunday at the door.

State Fair, based on the 1932 novel of the same title by Phil Stong, is the only musical Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II wrote specifically for film. The movie musical premiered in 1945 with a remake in 1962. It was 1996 before the musical arrived on a Broadway stage.

Songs from State Fair include “You Never Had It So Good,” “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” and “It Might As Well Be Spring,” which won an Academy Award for Best Song.

Set in the summer of 1946 on the Frake family farm in Brunswick, Iowa, the drama follows the family as they travel to the Iowa State Fair. Parents Abel and Melissa are hoping for blue ribbons—Abel with his prize boar and Melissa with her mincemeat. Their son, Wayne, is disappointed that his girlfriend cannot come along, while their daughter, Margy, tells her boyfriend, Harry, that she will give her answer to his long-standing marriage proposal when she returns from the fair.

Steven Garcia, Newton, and Sara Klassen, Goshen, Ind., will play the roles of Abel Frake and his wife Melissa. Kyra Atekwana, Stillwater, Okla., and Doug Bartel, Olathe, will play the roles of son and daughter Wayne and Margy.

Other members of the production include Ben Preheim, Lawrence, as Gus; Kyle Houseman, Newton, as Dave Miller; Noura Saadi, Topeka, as Eleanor; Paul Meissbach, Lawrence, as Harry; Sarah Hofkamp, Peabody, as the Fair Announcer; Dalton Smith, Burrton, as Hoop-La Barker; Alex Coker, Topeka, as Emily Arden; Alyce Murphy, Stillwater, Okla., as Astounding Stralenko; Brett Bussen, Wallace, as Pat Gilbert; Dane Soderquist, Chicago, Ill., as Charlie; Megan Siebert, Topeka, as Vivian; Hope Goertzen, Hesston, as Jeanne; Brent Weaver, Hutchinson, as Lem; Riley King, Lawrence, as Clay; Trent Jones, Hutchinson, as Hank Munson; Jake Hacker, Bucyrus, as Chief of Police; Sarah Rivera, Colwich, as Violet; Taylor Bailey, Fort Scott, as Judge Heppenstahl; Megan Peters, Monument, Colo., as Mrs. Edwin Metcalf of Pottsville; Levi Yoder, Piedmont, Calif, and Max Hawk, Wichita, as Two Roustabouts; Sadie Jones, Hutchinson, and Candace Miller, Hutchinson, as Cow; and Alix Welch, Topeka, as Pig.

Members of the Hootchie Dancers are Megan Beard, Topeka; Hope Goertzen, Hesston; Allison Mollitor, Kingman; Charlie Rippe, Peabody; Megan Siebert, Topeka; and Mycha Westhoff, Newton. Members of the Fairtones are Sierra Dirksen, Newton; Hope Goertzen, Hesston; Sadie Jones, Hutchinson; Candace Miller, Hutchinson; Jill Siebert, Topeka; Megan Siebert, Topeka; Sarah Press, Topeka; and Alix Welch, Topeka. Members of the Barkers, Vendors, Judges and Fairgoers are Jordan Claassen, Hesston; Mariah Estep, South Hutchinson; Christina Hofer, Dolton, S.D.; Emily Luedtke, Sedgwick; Caroline Mayhew, Lawrence; Natalie Patterson-Goodwyn, Mulvane; Shelby Schrag, Pretty Prairie; and Erika Westhoff, Newton.

The stage director is John McCabe-Juhnke, professor of communication arts, with technical direction by Megan Tyner, director of theater at Hesston College, and Toby Tyner, Bethel College assistant director of development. Cathy Crispino, director of choral music at Lawrence High School, is the music director; Annette Thornton, assistant professor and director of musical theater at Central Michigan University is the choreographer; and Rich Toevs, Newton, is the rehearsal accompanist. William Eash, Bethel professor of music, is the camp director.

Bethel College is a four-year liberal arts college affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. Founded in 1887, it is the oldest Mennonite college in North America. Bethel is known for its academic excellence and was the only Kansas private college to be ranked in Forbes.com’s listing of “America’s Best Colleges” for 2008 and one of only two Kansas colleges listed in Colleges of Distinction 2008-09.

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