Q&A: The Great American Trailer Park Musical Brings Adult Humor to Fair Oaks

The Fair Oaks Theatre Festival is welcoming variety within their summer productions with The Great American Trailer Park Musical.

Starting Aug. 12 The Great American Trailer Park Musical will make its first appearance at Veteran's Memorial Amphitheatre. 

The Trailer Park Musical has been likened to "South Park" meets "Desperate Housewives," according to Fair Oaks Theatre Festival's website.

"There's a new tenant at the Armadillo Acres - and she's wreaking havoc all over Florida's most exclusive trailer park. When Pippi, the stripper on the run, comes between the Dr. Phil-loving, agoraphobic Jeannie and her tollbooth collector husband, Norbert, the storm begins to brew," the website reads.

To figure out what exactly this PG-13 production is all about, leading cast members Daniel Slauson and Christianne Klein explain it's a first for the Fair Oaks area to have a play premiering in town that isn't geared toward children.

Fair Oaks Patch: First off, can you describe your character a bit and what his importance is to the plot?

Daniel Slauson: Norbert represents the main story line of the plot which is his faltering marriage to his agoraphobic wife, Jeannie. For 20 years, they have been married and for those same 20 years, she has been unable to step outside the trailer because of the kidnapping of their baby boy from many years ago. Norbert has a simple life - a toll collector by day and a suffering husband by night - all he wants is to go out with his wife to celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, but with Jeannie unable to overcome her fear, their marriage reaches a breaking point. In turn, Norbert, has been trapped emotionally for those same 20 years. For instance, he still yells "holy ham sammitches" when he gets excited. And his world turns upside down when Pippi, the stripping dancer, moves into the next door trailer.

FOP: How have you and other cast members worked to personify "trailer park"? What kind of difficulties have you had?

DS: Fortunately, we have a great script to work with - the persona, clearly of each character, is so well written that we just have to stand there and say the words...But, in addition, we all bring lots of years of stage experience (and life experience) and are having lots of fun. Top that off with some great costume pieces and we have a show. As far as difficulties, the music is challenging with exciting harmonies, but we are up to the challenge because we get to sing such great songs.

FOP: What is your favorite scene in this musical?

DS: Boy, there are so many. This show is so much fun, but, if I had to choose, I would say the favorite scenes for me are the sincere quiet moments between Norbert and his wife that show the years of their relationship and why they have been married for so long. However, the Jerry Springer-like talk show in the middle of Act I is also a great scene, too.

FOP: Was landing a role in this production especially important to you?

DS: First and foremost, playing Norbert is great fun. He gets to have a wife and a girlfriend, but he also has to pay the emotional toll - I like that part, too. I wanted to play him because he is so very different from me - plus he has great songs to sing.

FOP: How does this production stand out from other productions being performed there this summer?

DS: It is a first for Fair Oaks in that it is not recommended for children, but more than that, the show and character is so different from anything I have ever done. The script is spot-on funny and it has been hard to even rehearse without breaking up.


Klein explains taking the role of Lin (short for Linoleum) was a welcome departure from her time on another stage as an anchor with ABC News.

FOP: First off, can you describe your character a bit to me and what her importance is to the plot?

Christianne Klein: I play “Lin” or “Linoleum” (so named because her “momma gave birth to her on the kitchen floor”). Her husband Earl is on death row at the Florida State Prison and she spends much of the show trying to prevent the prison from “frying” her husband in “Ol’ Smokey” (the prison’s electric chair). Her method: Making sure all the lights are on in the trailer park so the prison can’t get enough electricity to turn on “Ol’ Smokey.”

Lin is part of a Greek Chorus – a trio of women – from the trailer park who help tell the story of a love triangle between Norbert and Jeanie Garstecki and Pippi, a stripper who moves into the trailer next door. The three of us know what’s happening, and explain it to the audience, even when the other characters in the musical aren’t aware of what’s going on in the plot.

FOP: Did you find a way to relate to this character in any way?

CK: I adore this character. She doesn’t have a filter - she just says and does whatever pops into her mind despite how wild or crazy those thoughts may be. She’s the Freudian “id” to an extreme. We all have a friend like Lin – the one who says completely inappropriate things at the most inappropriate time. You are horrified in the moment, but you still laugh because she’s completely honest about her feelings.

FOP: What did this character mean to you?

CK: All actors love characters that allow them to do something they wouldn’t or couldn’t do in real life. Understandably, I wasn’t allowed to act on stage when I was anchoring for ABC News. I missed the stage terribly - especially the Fair Oaks Theatre Festival since I literally grew up performing in FOTF productions with Bob Irvin. When I branched out from news and started my production company, Truth Fairy TV, I immediately emailed Bob to tell him I was coming back to California- and I needed audition dates.

FOP: Why did you want to play her?

CK: When I read Lin’s first line in the opening number my jaw dropped open. She is so hedonistic, wild and extreme that I knew she would be a blast to play. I figured this would be a great chance to get away with insanity on stage.

FOP: How is this production different than other productions you have taken part in?

CK: By far this show is the bawdiest and funniest I’ve ever been in. I read the script and just could not stop laughing. It’s hysterical, yet the music is still beautiful. You get swept away with the melody and harmony, and then realize what the characters are actually saying and burst out laughing. This is a big departure for the Fair Oaks Theatre Festival. This show is not for children, but if you’re an adult looking to laugh for two hours straight - you’ll love it. It’s a great date show or show for a group of friends looking to have a fantastic night out.

FOP: What has been the most entertaining part of the process for this production so far?

CK: I was lucky enough to be a part of other FOTF shows when I was a teenager with many of the same people who are still involved with the productions. I’ve been friends with these guys for half my life, so for me, this is a great homecoming. There’s a level of trust and creativity that you don’t necessarily have with people you just met. We know that we can suggest completely insane ideas and brainstorm together to make a scene hysterical.

FOP: Tell me a little story about a funny part of rehearsal/practice that stands out to you.

CK: I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but there is a song/scene that’s a takeoff on a Jerry Springer type of TV Show. Rehearsing the scene the other day we just kept upping the ante on the characters. You will want to come back and see the show more than once because there are so many funny bits happening on stage that you’re sure to miss one the first time.

Dates of Production: Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays Aug. 12 - Sept. 11

Matthew Adams August 02, 2011 at 06:41 PM
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