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Musical comedy about living in a trailer park opens at CSU

Come on! You know you have a certain mindset about trailer parks. And the people who live in them.

That may be why "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" is so popular.

It started out as an entry in the 2004 New York City Music Theater Festival. It got such good reviews and, more importantly, great audience reaction that it opened Off-Broadway, then made it to Broadway. Then it was time for national tours and now, you can see it in the Columbus State University Riverside Theater Complex starting this weekend. It's part of the CSU Theater's summer theater program.

While you may think that certain people live in trailer parks, the musical revels in those stereotypical characters.

First, there's Betty, played by Lauryn Snapp Mayfield, who is the manager of Armadillo Arms in Stark, Fla. She's murdered her husband and buried him on the property, but no one is questioning her 10 years after the fact.

There's Lin, short for Linoleum (played by Jessa Pease), because she was born on the kitchen floor. Her husband is on death row in the nearby state penitentiary, and she convinces all the residents of the trailer park to leave their lights on all the time so there won't be enough power when it's time to fire up the electric chair.

Pickles, played by Sonnet Moore, looks pregnant, but the other women aren't convinced. Pickles' husband (who is never seen) is an actor working for a dinner theater in Jacksonville and is "not around a lot" in Stark.

The three, Betty, Lin and Pickles, play "the Greek chorus," Moore said.

Then there's not so happily married couple, Norbert (Sean Lawley) and Jeannie (Kristin Storla). Norbert is a toll collector, who just happens to go to a strip club with his brother and falls for a stripper, Pippi (played by Meg Dickens). Pippi is on the run from a violent former boyfriend, Duke (Brian Jordan). It turns out that Pippi is the newest resident of Armadillo Arms.

Duke, of course, shows up at the trailer park.

Jeannie is an agoraphobic, who almost never leaves her trailer.

Zack Wright is also the musical director for "Dora the Explorer."

David Turner, who will start his second year teaching in the CSU theater department in September, is directing.

"There are some human elements in this musical," Turner said. "There's a love story. There is some real heart to it ... and it's really funny. Someone described it as 'South Park' meets 'Desperate Housewives.'"

Because it is a summer show, there weren't as many students auditioning for this musical, but he insists that the right students were cast in the show.

Theater chair Lawrence Dooley wants students to get the summer stock experience, so students starring in this show work backstage for "Dora the Explorer" and the "Dora" cast works backstage on this one.

"The Great American Trailer Park Musical" is aimed at those 13 and older. If it were a movie, it'd be rated PG-13, Turner said.

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