A Don't Hug Me County Fair

A Don't Hug Me County Fair

This crowd-pleasing cornball musical, by Phil and Paul Olsen, suggests a hometown talent show combined with a sort of Minnesota Folk Play, full of bad jokes and set in a bar called the Bunyan, on the first day of the Bunyan County Fair. Proprietor Gunner Johnson (Tom Gibis, who also plays Gunner's man-hungry sister Trigger) is so uncomfortable talking about feelings that he can't utter the word "love." His frustrated wife, Clara (Judy Heneghan), seeks attention by becoming a contestant in the Miss Walleye Contest, whose winner will have her face carved in butter. Also in the running are Trigger and Bernice (Katherine Brunk), a scatty-but-shapely gal who longs to star on Broadway. And there are other competitions: Karaoke-machine salesman Aarvid Gisselsen (Brad McDonald) and camping-supplies tycoon Kanute Gunderson (Tom Limmel) vie for the hand of Bernice, while Kanute and Gunner compete in the fishing contest. The songs, by the Olsens, are rinky-tink and derivative, borrowing melodies from everywhere, but somehow they work. The giddy tone is set by Doug Engalla's direction, Stan Mazin's choreography, and an astonishingly detailed set by Chris Winfield, featuring a karaoke machine with a mind of its own. Lonny Chapman Group Repertory Theatre, 10900 Burbank Boulevard, North Hollywood; Fri.-Sat., 8 p.m., Sun., 2 p.m., through March 29. (818) 700-4878 or www.lcgrt.com.
Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2 p.m. Starts: Feb. 6. Continues through May 2, 2009