The original Depression-era novel “State Fair” that chronicled an Iowa family’s experiences at its state fair received horrible reviews, but proceeded to sell a million copies and was made into a non-musical film in 1933 starring Will Rogers. Near the end of World War II, the story was adapted by Rodgers and Hammerstein for their first-ever movie musical and was remade and updated in 1962 with Pat Boone and Ann-Margret with some new songs by Rodgers (Hammerstein had died in 1960). Hammerstein’s son James tried several attempts at a stage version, including Ozzie and Harriet of sitcom fame as the parents, finally settling on a set stage form as late as 1995. Six “new” songs were added to fill out the score that were either cut from other R & H shows before opening or taken from R & H flops and the end result previewed in Chicago with some odd, all-star miscastings before hitting an indifferent Broadway around the same time as “Rent,” i.e., about fifty years too late. But no matter. Done with the right cast and care, as this joyous and poignant Marriott revival is, this is perfect family fare for regional theaters and still retains such staples as “It Might As Well Be Spring” and “It’s a Grand Night for Singing,” all done with exuberance and style. (Dennis Polkow).
Marriott Theatre, 10 Marriott Drive, Lincolnshire, (847)634-0200. $42. Through July 2.