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Farm future explored in 'Corn!'
Special to The Post-Star
Published: Friday, July 17, 2009

SALEM - The Fort Salem Theater is the home of a world premiere of the new musical play by Al Budde, with music and lyrics by the theater's artistic director, Jay Kerr.

"Corn! The Musical" gives us a look at the struggle farmers are facing today and offers a solution not only to that struggle but to many other of life's problems faced -- not only by farmers, but by all of us.

If it sounds heavy, think again. Life must be faced with optimism and a sense of humor if one is to succeed.

Briefly, the story is that after having been in the Settle family since 1784, the many acres of cornfields are no longer profitable. Add to that the fact that eventually there comes into every family a generation not suited to nor interested in maintaining the same family lifestyle.

It's now spring 2008, and the patriarch of the family, Bo Settle, has died. His extensive farmland is now in the hands of his wife Laney, his son Chester and his daughter Molly. Neither Chester nor Molly want to continue living off the corn fields. And there is Laney's brother, Uncle Mark, who has lived and worked on the farm all his life but can't run it by himself, even if that were an option.

A family crisis looms. Chester's response is expressed in "I Could Never Be a Farmer." Molly wants to explore the world rather than stay put on the farm. Their mother laments the loss of her husband while her brother supports keeping the farm in the family.

As the plot continues, the audience savors the delightful music, the generous bits of humor and admirable acting by a group of excellent performers from far and near. Tom Flagg as the father, Susan Cicarelli Caputo as the mother and Shannon Rafferty as son Chester's greedy girlfriend, Shelby, all hold Equity status.

Chester is played by David Hancock Turner while Molly is played by Jessica O'Keefe. Molly's admirer, Brad Stiles, a young lawyer handling the estate, is played by Peter Kidd and Uncle Mark is played by Dan Garfinkel. The whole cast is excellent, whether acting or singing, making this show a genuine crowd pleasing experience.

Tyler Budde directs, while Jay Kerr provides musical accompaniment.

Sarah Rogers has created an attractive and appropriate set including a farmhouse kitchen and a nearby barn.

"Corn! The Musical" is an exciting, energetic and well performed theatrical delight. And, perhaps best of all, it's far from corny as we watch this brave family get on with their lives.

Fort Salem Theater
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