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“‘Love at the County Fair’;
Dessert for Johnson County Fair — July 30 & 31”

Nicholas Johnson
July 27, 2010

The incredibly talented bundle of energy called Janet Schlapkohl, and her Combined Efforts Theater troupe, are about to burst on the Eastern Iowa theater scene once again this Friday and Saturday evenings (July 30 & 31, 2010).

It’s the world premier of Janet’s latest original play, “Love at the County Fair.” This may be the best yet from this writing, producing, directing member of the University of Iowa’s MFA playwriting program and her string of successful, sold-out productions. (Tickets for this one are still available as of this morning. Call 319-354-3369 for reservations.)

It’s the county fair season in Iowa. The Johnson County Fair, on the fairgrounds south of Iowa City, opened yesterday. It’s well worth attending before it closes Friday.

But what a wonderful encore Combined Efforts Theater offers us to the Johnson County Fair, like a creative, light, but intriguing dessert after a gourmet meal, that causes one to both smile and reflect.

As Combined Efforts’ Website describes the play, “Here is truly a love story for every generation, as well as a rivalry between the owners of the towns’ two grocery stores, Monty’s and Kaplet’s. Add to that a Renaissance group turned boy band, rival stage mothers and their talented daughters, a lemonade swilling police chief, a former children’s show star and his stuffed raccoon, yodelers, hog callers, a Goth girl, singing, dancing, a pie baking competition, and much more.” The combination — and the ending — make for a wonderful Iowa summer’s evening of theater for the whole family.

The charm of the performance is increased, as always with Combined Efforts Theater, with the fact that the cast and crew includes both students and adults with and without special needs.

For all the details, pictures from a rehearsal, quotes and pictures from prior shows, and directions to the theater (appropriately for this production at an Iowa City farm), check out the Website, https://www.combinedefforts.org.

[Full disclosure: Combined Efforts Theater, and this production, include some family members of the blog author.]

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