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Family Fun Fest a look behind scenes

May 23, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

FAYETTEVILLE, Pa. -- Artistic director Ray Ficca views the Totem Pole Playhouse Family Fun Fest like a carnival.

Around each corner is a new attraction, and in each performance a new thrill ride.

"This is something you know you can bring the kids to and not only will they be entertained, you can find something for yourself as well," Ficca said.

An estimated 2,000 people stepped right up Saturday to be entertained, educated and fed at the eighth annual festival.

Sue McMurtray, executive director of the playhouse, said people often consider the back-stage, costumed world of theater to be a mystery.

Her hope was the festival would solve the mystery and open minds to a wonderful world of color, character and spontaneity.

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"On stage, a performance one day can be different from the next," McMurtray said. "That is the magic of theater."

Theater is the beating heart of Totem Pole, Ficca said, so naturally, each attraction represented some aspect of the business called show.

On stage left, skilled thespians gave lessons in stage fighting and children crafted masks and props for their upcoming performance that afternoon, while makeup artists applied rouge, butterflies and balloons to young cheeks and the concession stands sold baked goods, burgers, hot dogs and soda.

On stage right, a flea market and yard sale recycled one man's trash into one man's treasure, while back stage, volunteers guided tours.

And at stage front, stars from New York City gave a taste of the 2009 season before letting the children shine in the limelight.

There almost was too much to do for Cameron Bream of Gettysburg, Pa., who barely could pick a favorite aspect of the day.

"I really liked the play," Cameron said of the children's play.

But if there was one must-see or -do attraction at Fun Fest, he said it was making the masks.

However, 9-year-old best friends Meghan Sharpe and Anna Gibaud, both of Chambersburg, Pa., respectfully disagreed with Cameron, insisting having one's face painted was an absolute must.

Adults appeared to prefer the season preview and bake sale.

Rose Stockslager of Fayetteville said she and her friend, Beverly Cooper of Fayetteville, came to show support for the playhouse and hopefully pick up some goodies.

"We really love the Totem Pole," Stockslager said. "This is just the perfect setting for a playhouse. You can smell the pine and hear the birds and they do such a nice job here every year."

McMurtray said Fun Fest is held each year on Memorial Day weekend.

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