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A lot of fun at the trailer park.

Byline: Mark Baker The Register-Guard

` `The Honeymooners' meets `The Best Little Whorehouse in Urinetown.' '

That's how the New York Post described "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" when it hit off-Broadway in New York City on Sept. 27, 2005.

Eugene's Maida Belove, when she first saw it performed in midtown Manhattan a year earlier, had this reaction: ``I thought it was hysterical. I thought, `I want to be in this.' ''

Well, at least she gets to direct it.

Actors Cabaret of Eugene is staging the show, and it is Belove's first time directing a full musical. The show opens Friday at ACE and is scheduled to run four straight weekends through Sept. 22.

"The Great American Trailer Park Musical" is a twisted trailer park tale of love gone wrong - way wrong.

When Actors Cabaret members went to the Big Apple in 2004 to perform "Pretty Faces" - a musical about "plus-sized women" - as part of the New York Musical Theatre Festival, they shared an off-Broadway theater on West 43rd Street with the original cast of "The Great American Trailer Park Musical."

The casts tripped over each other's sets backstage, says Belove, a Eugene real estate agent who has been involved in theater most of her life.

(Belove's big claim to fame, though, is probably that she is seen about 30 times as an extra in 1978's "Animal House," filmed in Eugene and Cottage Grove. She's the one who swiped the beanie off of Flounder's head and disappeared with it the first time he entered the infamous Delta house.)

When the rights to the musical became available, it seemed like a no-brainer for Actors Cabaret to produce it, Belove says.

She has chosen three local actresses from the "Pretty Faces" cast to play the "girls trio" - the roles of Linn (Laura Holden), Pickles (Amanda Fackrell) and Betty (Michelle Sellers).

Picture the Supremes or the Andrews Sisters or the Pointer Sisters - but picture them stepping over roadkill on their way to Wal-Mart in hot pants and high heels, eating Pringles and Cheez Whiz along the way.

The setting is Starke, Fla., about 25 miles southwest of Jacksonville - and 11 miles east of Florida State Prison (also known as Starke Prison), where Ted Bundy and other serial killers were executed in "Old Sparky," the prison's electric chair.

"They like to execute people in this town," Belove says. "But it only works when the electricity is off in Starke."

More specifically, the setting within Starke is Armadillo Acres, Florida's most exclusive trailer park, if there can be such a thing. It's a land of double-wides, beer swilling, chemical sniffing, teenage pregnancy and guns.

And there's a new tenant in this delightful environment, a stripper on the run named Pippi (Rebecca Teran) who's wreaking havoc. When she comes between the Dr. Phil-loving, agoraphobic Jeannie (Margaret Innocenti) and her toll-collector husband, Norbert, (Don Kelley), the result is a love triangle from hell.

Mark Van Beever, who provides the play's musical direction, also steps out on stage in the role of Duke.

Written by Betty Kelso, with music and lyrics by David Nehls, "Trailer Park" is "American blue collar soap opera set to music," according to a Denver Post critic.

With songs such as "This Side of the Tracks," "Road Kill" and "Flushed Down the Pipes," Belove says the music "is amazing; the story is very funny."

Audience members are even encouraged to dress up (or come as they are) in their favorite trailer park-trash outfits and vie for prizes.

"It's a hoot - I promise," Belove says.

Just leave the children at home.


The Great American Trailer Park Musical

What: Local version of the off-Broadway musical

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Sept. 7-8, 14-15 and 21-22

Where: Actors Cabaret, 996 Willamette St.

Tickets: $18 reserved, $15 general admission, $34.95 with dinner; call 683-4368
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 30, 2007
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