The Box Office is now open to accept reservations for The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Call 419-238-9689 between 2 and 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday. This is going to be a popular show, so do not wait. Tickets are $15 at the door. Curtain times are 8 p.m. on March 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 and 2 p.m. on March 11 and 18. This show is nothing but non-stop laughs and fun.
This musical, a collaboration between composer-lyricist David Nehls and script writer Betsy Kelso, began its journey as a series of staged readings and workshops, followed by a sold-out run at The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) in 2004, which led to the 2005 Off Broadway run. Jerry Zimmerman, director of VWCT’s version of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” was introduced to the show by seeing it performed by other community theatres in Ohio. He recommended it be added to this season in Van Wert, and here we are.
The plot….well, what little plot there is….centers around the residents of Armadillo Acres, a manufactured housing community in Starke, Florida. Yes, a trailer park. Norbert (played by Daileas Duclo) and Jeannie (played by Mary Ann Falk) are coming up on their twentieth wedding anniversary, and Norbert would like to take Jeannie out for a night of dinner and Ice Capades. Sounds reasonable, except Jeannie has agoraphobia and has not been out of the house for most of that 20 years. By chance or by destiny, Norbert runs into Pippi (played Nancy Williams Shuffle), a stripper on the run from Duke (played by Travis Nihiser), her crazy, controlling, homicidal boyfriend. Norbert and Pippi strike up a friendship that soon turns into more. Jeannie discovers the tryst just as the trailer park is threatened by a storm and the arrival of Duke. Everyone survives; well, not everyone exactly.
The story is moved forward by three women who are also residents of the trailer park: Betty, the leasing manager; Linoleum, whose husband is on death row; and Pickles, a young newlywed who is prone to hysterical pregnancies. The three actresses narrate in the style of a Greek chorus. In a classical Greek play, a chorus typically served to formulate, express, and comment on the moral issue that was raised by the dramatic action or to express an emotion appropriate to each stage of the dramatic conflict. Throughout the show, these three comment on the moral issues at hand while giving the audience other information necessary to understand the context of the story. VWCT has put together a Greek chorus that is sure to blow you away. Kristin Lee as Betty, Kara Place as Linoleum, and Stacy Rife as Pickles sing nearly the entire show in three-part harmony. In rehearsals, these three singers immediately created a sound that blended well, despite the fact that, as soloists, they have three distinct vocal sounds. Audiences will get a chance to hear the pipes of the individual women as each steps out several times during the show to sing a turn on her own.
Band members for this production are Dee Fisher, conductor, keyboard, AND music director; Chris Place, guitar; Matt Alessandrini, bass; and Elliot Mueller, drums. The music in the show is a mix of country and rock with a smattering of disco.
If you are still not sure what genre this musical may be, let me put it this way–this show feels like an episode of Jerry Springer complete with spray cheese-serving housewives, hoochie-coochie dancers, bacon bits, and high on permanent marker boyfriends. Do not expect to see a musical like any you have seen before. The show is a study in characters who are flawed and just trying to make it. In the end, you will like them all, despite some of the shocking details you may learn along the way. I promise you will laugh. If you appreciate the insanity of a good Springer or “Momma’s Family” episode and are not easily offended by strippers, a few curse words, or stale pop culture references, then you do not want to miss this show. I will state that this show contains adult situations and adult language. You may want to leave the younger children at home…unless you allow them to watch “South Park,” that is.