TBT offers up double-wide fun

Thunder Bay Theatre takes on trailer park stereotypes in its final show of the spring season. Called “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” this low-brow comedy written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso explores the relationships between the tenants at the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in sunny Florida.

To give a little idea of what’s in store for theatre goers, one of the seven characters featured in the show is named Linoleum (although she’s called Lin) because she was born on the kitchen floor. Another, confirmed agoraphobic Jeannie, hasn’t left her trailer in 20 years and is addicted to watching Dr. Phil on television. Then there’s also Pippi, the stripper on the run from her ex-boyfriend. She conveniently moves next door and starts fooling around with Jeannie’s husband.

“It’s a hilarious comedy about a trailer park and the people who live in it,” said actress Suni Travis, cast in the show as Jeannie.

Performing in the production along with Travis are LeShawn Bell as Norbert, Jeannie’s toll-booth collector husband; Hannah Matzke as the pole-dancing stripper, Pippi; Zach Clement as the crazy-eyed, gun-toting ex-boyfriend, Duke; Beth Matzke as Betty; and Sandi Schmidt as Linoleum.

Making her debut on the TBT stage is Juliana LaBar as Pickles, an incredibly dumb character who’s experiencing a hysterical pregnancy. The trio of Pickles, Betty and Linoleum serves as the resident trailer park busybodies who narrate and sing back-up.

LaBar is fairly at home on the stage, having previously competed in and won both the Miss Sunrise Side and Miss Rogers City competitions. She came on board at TBT late into rehearsals after another actress dropped out of the production.

“It’s a great group to work with, and I’ve been getting great direction,” LaBar said.

Mackenzie Fountain has served as music director and Randy Bouchard as band director. Playing in the Armadillo Acres Trailer Band alongside Bouchard on guitar are Kat Tomaszewski on keyboard, Jerrith Clewely on bass and Joe La Vigne on drums.

TBT Artistic Director J.R. Rodriguez considers the show just plain fun that is not meant to be offensive toward stereotypes.

“If you’re coming in for Shakespeare or Ibsen or Les Miserables, you’re in the wrong theatre. This is the polar opposite,” Rodriguez said. “It’s trashy, but the music is infectious, and it’s just bloody fun.”

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” caps of a season billed as a celebration of the human spirit, and a season that included the moving drama, “Wit,” and the rock musical classic, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”

This newest offering opens Friday, with show dates of April 26-28 and May 2-5. Show time is at 7:30 p.m. except for Sundays, when TBT instead presents a 2 p.m. matinee.

The show is not recommended for ages 13 and older. To make reservations, call the box office at 354-2267.