Review for “Farmers Market the Musical”

By Mary Mazza Hendricks

Perfect casting for the Fairmont State University’s (FSU) Town and Gown Theatre’s production of “Farmers Market the Musical” makes the play as comical as it is enjoyable.

Written by Rob Hartmann and Katie Kring, the two-act play is on the stage at the Prickett’s Fort State Park Amphitheatre July 4-6. Shows start at 8 p.m. each evening. Reserve seats are available online at www.fairmontstate.edu/tickets or by calling the Box Office at (304) 367-4240; tickets are $13 each. For more information about Prickett’s Fort State Park, visit www.prickettsfort.org.

The Sunnyfield Township Farmers Union features characters named after the products they sell at the market. Each character cast in the world premiere of this play personifies the Candles (Liz Rossi), Peaches (Christie Brooks), and Amish Jams (Rennes Carbaugh) on sale. But it would be difficult to deny that Tyler Kovar as Chicken and Jason Young as Mr. Buffalo were the scene-stealers whenever they were on stage.

FSU Associate Professor Jeffrey Ingman directed the play for which Hartmann was the music director. Based on the true-life experiences of scriptwriter Kring, “Farmers Market the Musical” focuses on Marsha, played by Sarah R. Rowan. Marsha, who makes homemade marshmallows, immortalized in “Marshmallows Are Magic,” is trying to get her foot in the door of the market, ruled by a closed-minded board. Mr. Buffalo and his cohorts, Mr. Pork, played by Steve McElory; Mr. Sourdough (Shawn Dunn), and Mr. Mushroom (Christian Cox), insist “Ya Can’t Make a Marshmallow,” and ban her from the market.

As luck, or good playwriting, would have it, Richard Richardson, played by Brandon Lee, just happens to have a shaded, field that would serve as “A Place to Be” for the beleaguered market personnel. In addition to finding a better location for the market, Marsha also finds true love with Richard.

John O’Connor was superb as “Curds,” who regales the cast, as well as the audience, with crazy stories of that time when saved the circus, that other time when he sold cheese to the Queen of England, who invited him to Buckingham Palace, and insisted, “Old Bess was in love with me!” She almost became Mrs. Curds Number Two!

Amusing dialogue was sprinkled throughout the show, including this exchange between Peaches (Brooks) and Honey, played by Hannah Weekly. Peaches asks, “Do you talk to your bees?” Upon hearing an affirmative answer from Honey, Peaches continues, “Do they ever talk back?” Just when the audience thinks Honey has lost her mind, Honey replies, “Of course not! They were raised right!
            The songs are lively and the vocal talent of the cast was outstanding, especially the rousing, “Produce to the People.” The Farmers Market Rumble is highlighted by a clogging contest--no spoiler here! You’ll have to see the play to find out who won.