By Mary Ann Falk

“Yee haw, Starke, Florida, here we come!” Like any show, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is in the final days of preparation. That final week leading up to the opening can be an exhausting, exhilarating, and crazy time. The backstage begins to fill up with costumes, wigs, and props. Our band assembled this week. In addition, the director is scribbling notes to give the cast during rehearsals. Rest assured, this cast, crew, and orchestra will be ready. And, if you are looking for an evening of silliness wrapped in some of the best singing you will hear, please get a ticket to this show.

Last week you met our Greek chorus, this week, well…, you get to meet the rest of the cast. Norbert and Jeannie Garstecki met in high school, got married young, started a family, and then tragedy struck….their baby was stolen. Daileas Duclo plays Norbert, the patient husband who, during the show, gets himself in a tight spot. Daileas has been active at VWCT for the last few years, but this marks his first big role on the VWCT stage. He will blow audiences away with his performance. Daileas is an accomplished poet having published four collections of poetry. He hosts two radio shows and holds a Master’s degree. He hopes to teach his own class someday.

Jeannie, played by yours truly (Mary Ann Falk), has refused to come out of the trailer ever since the baby was kidnapped. After playing Rose in “Gypsy” this fall, I am thrilled to play a simpler character like Jeannie. I am also thrilled to be back on stage. Many of you know I work at Vantage Career Center as a Technology Integrationist. VWCT has a special place in my heart. I met my husband at the theatre and have met some of my best friends there.

The plot gets complicated when Pippi, a stripper on the run, moves in next door to Jeannie and Norbert. I am sure you can guess where that might lead. Nancy Williams Shuffle plays Pippi. A Registered Dental Hygienist in her real life, Nancy has graced our stage many times. You may have seen her in Morticia Addams in The Addams Family Musical. Get ready to see Nancy as you have never seen her before.

Travis Nihiser playing Duke, the crazy ex-boyfriend of Pippi, rounds out the cast. This marks Travis’s first musical and, rumor has it, his first time singing in public. Travis was in VWCT’s production of It’s a Wonderful Life: A Radio Play earlier this year where he was the sound effects guy. Being the “new guy” among a folk of seasoned divas can be nerve wracking, but Travis has risen to the challenge.

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” runs March 8, 9, 10, 11, 15, 16, 17, 18. The box office opens on March 5 for the public. Please visit our website at or like us on Facebook (just search for Van Wert Civic Theatre to like and follow us). You can also find us on Twitter @vwcivictheatre.