Times West Virginian
Fairmont State University’s Town & Gown Summer Theatre continues its longstanding tradition of musical productions when it presents “Little Women” and the world premiere of “Farmers Market the Musical” this summer.
“Little Women” will run at 7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and at 2 p.m. Sunday at Wallman Hall on the main campus of Fairmont State. Pricketts Fort State Park will host “Farmers Market the Musical” on June 28-30 and July 4-6 at 8 p.m. Reserve seats are available online at www.fairmontstate.edu/tickets or by calling the Box Office at 304-367-4240; tickets are $13 each.
Directed by Dr. Francene Kirk, “Little Women” is based upon Louisa May Alcott’s 19th century novel. The musical brings to life the March family of Concord, Mass. In a time of war and sacrifice, Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth, guided by their mother Marmee, grow from girls into women, through romance and courtship, illness and loss, loving and letting go.
Directed by Jeffrey Ingman, the world premiere of “Farmers Market the Musical” will feature the characters who sell, buy and operate the Sunnyfield Township Farmers’ Union. The comedy loosely is inspired by the behind-the-farmstand power struggles at a real farmers market in Missouri.
An idealistic young vendor who just wants to sell her baked goods and homemade marshmallows is run out of the market by Mr. Buffalo and his cronies, who rule the market with an iron fist. The vendors (all known by the name of their products: Peaches, Honey, Curds, Chicken, Candles and Amish Jams) come together to fight injustice, form a new market and bring produce to the people.
“Fairmont State University is proud to continue its longstanding partnership with Pricketts Fort State Park to provide high-quality outdoor theater for residents of North Central West Virginia. Our collaboration results in entertainment for our community and enhances educational opportunities for FSU students,” said Peter Lach, dean of the FSU School of Fine Arts.
Lach said Town & Gown Summer Theatre’s productions began many years ago with FSU students and local talent.
“Actors performed in a tent on the college campus during the summer months. We used local people in the productions, almost always musicals, in order to have a number of sufficient people and to increase the range of talent. Then we started having productions during the school year, four to five plays, in addition to the two or three Town & Gown shows in the summer,” he said.
Town & Gown Summer Theatre builds connections between the School of Fine Arts and the community, with many opportunities for community members to appear on stage. Townspeople make up about two-thirds of the cast during the summer months, but students make up most of the cast during the school production season.
Lach pointed out that it is beneficial to the student actors to work with the more experienced veteran actors from the community who serve as models and mentors to the young adults.
“They learn by observation,” he noted.
Students typically receive university credits for their participation in the plays, and the experience is good to include on a resume.