CD – Selections from The Great American Trailer Park Musical ON SALE NOW!

The Trailer Park Studio Cast

This brand new CD features 6 songs from the musical, plus 4 bonus tracks of songs written for the original New york production, but previously unrecorded.

Heatherton Lays One Down
Actress Heatherton Hardy Wilson

The creators of the musical, David Nehls and Betsy Kelso have granted permission for members of the Circle Theatre cast and band to record these 6 new songs and share them for the very first time.

Listen to samples below!

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Hans’ Musical Director’s Notes for The Great American Trailer Park Musical

When this show was produced at the Out of the Loop Festival at WaterTower in Addison, it sold out very quickly and was almost immediately slated to return for a second run at that venue. That extended run sold out almost every night as well – often with patrons attending for a second or even third time. One well-known critic wrote that she sneaked out of a different production and into ours at intermission because she enjoyed it so much the first time.

The question for me is – Why is this little show such a joy to watch? Don’t get me wrong.  The book is hilarious and the music is a blast to listen to, but what is it about this show that entices audience members to buy another ticket and bring their friends? (Trust me producers would love an answer to this question too.)

For me, it’s a one-two punch of a couple elements that catapult this show and others in the genre to the top of my must-see list. First, the audience can identify with the characters almost immediately and second the fourth wall has been removed completely so that the audience is included in the show.

Whether we want to admit it or not – many of us don’t have to wander too far out on the limbs of our family tree to find a Norbert, Jeanie or even a Duke.  These representations make great comedy, but the humor comes from the reality of recognizing our own lives in them.  Director, Chris Robinson, was emphatic that the actors’ characters should not turn into caricatures.  They are real people with huge “Jerry Springer-style problems. We laugh, but we also empathize with their basic emotions.

A great friend of mine recently summed up her almost 60 years of success as an actress in one minute.  This is what she said, to the best I can recall. “Audiences come to the theatre to see a reflection of themselves in the performers. It doesn’t matter what is being portrayed. If you can find a common thread between the character you are portraying and the guy or gal in the seat watching – then you’ve got that person by the heart and you can take them anywhere.”  At its heart, I think that’s what brings people back. This show provides an honest accessible reflection of our own struggles.

The other key element in the endearment of this show is that the “fourth wall” is torn down from the very first line of the show. Sara Shelby Martin’s character welcomes audience members and continues to acknowledge them throughout the show.

I was always taught that actors “breaking the fourth wall” was taboo and a desperate act. However, although it can easily be abused and misused, I feel it really meets a need for audiences to be seen and noticed. TV and film can’t do this like live theatre can. It is that two-way communication that separates live theatre from other popular entertainment formats.

The real art for an actor is to see and acknowledge the audience by showing them a raw glimpse of their soul, rather than speaking directly to them.  But we can’t always achieve such a lofty goal – particularly in a trailer park.  So why not follow Pickles’ example and just pass them a moon-pie from your bra and ask ‘em to sit back and enjoy.

Perhaps, this is all a little too over-thought for a show about seven crazy trail park residents… but you may just find yourself sneaking back for an encore performance without knowing what it was that made you a repeat “attender”. I hope these ramblings will help bring things into focus so you can rationalize coming back with your friends to visit us in Starke, Florida again and again before the end of the run.

-Hans Grim, Music Director