The residents of Armadillo Acres invite you to visit them in the upcoming Van Wert Civic Theatre production. Shown (front row, left to right) are Kara Place, Kristin Lee, Stacy Rife (back row) Daileas Duclo, Mary Ann Falk, Travis Nihiser, and Nancy Williams Shuffle. (Photo submitted)
The residents of Armadillo Acres invite you to visit them in the upcoming Van Wert Civic Theatre production. Shown (front row, left to right) are Kara Place, Kristin Lee, Stacy Rife (back row) Daileas Duclo, Mary Ann Falk, Travis Nihiser, and Nancy Williams Shuffle. (Photo submitted)

VAN WERT — Van Wert Civic Theatre opens the fourth show of the 2017-18 season on Thursday, March 8 with “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.”

This musical, a collaboration between composer-lyricist David Nehls and scriptwriter Betsy Kelso, began its journey as a series of staged readings and workshops, which led to a successful run off-Broadway. Director / Choreographer Jerry Zimmerman and Music Director Dee Fisher lead VWCT’s version of the musical. “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” runs March 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17 with the curtain at 8 p.m. and March 11 and 18 with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees.

The Box Office is open now Monday - Saturday from 2 - 6 p.m. Call 419-238-9689 to make your reservation. If you get the voicemail, leave a message with your name and phone number, and our box office volunteer will call you back. Tickets are $15 at the door. VWCT takes cash and checks only.

The plot centers on the residents of Armadillo Acres, a manufactured housing community in Starke, Florida—a trailer park. The time is around 2003. 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 those 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.

Three women who are also residents of the trailer park move the story forward: 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. Kristin Lee as Betty, Kara Place as Linoleum, and Stacy Rife as Pickles sing nearly the entire show in three-part harmony. The music in the show is a mix of country and rock with a smattering of disco. This musical mash-up is unscored by Dee Fisher (conductor / keyboard), Chris Place (guitar), Matt Alessandrini (bass), and Elliot Mueller (drums).

If you are looking for a night of fun and laughter, this is the show for you. “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” could be described as a mix of Jerry Springer, “Mama’s Family,” and a trip to Costco. Folks will just have to come see it to believe it. VWCT does advise that the show contains some adult language and situations.