TheatreWorks Florida is bringing a downhome, rock ‘n roll, good time to Davenport on March 9th-18th with their production of, The Great American Trailer Park Musical! The third show of their inaugural season is set in Armadillo Acres, a manufactured housing community in North Florida.
Artistic Producer/ Director Scott Cook lays out the details of this rip-roaring musical, “There is this outrageous trio of girls that takes us through this story. Jeanie is an agoraphobic who lives in her trailer and can’t seem to get out. Her husband [Norbert] is a toll booth collector and they are coming up on their twentieth anniversary, so he’s trying to get her to go to the Ice Capades. Enter this crazy story–this stripper on the run, named Pippi and she needs a place to hide because her crazy boyfriend Duke, is after her from Oklahoma City. Unsuspectedly, Norbert, and Pippy fall in love. So now we have all this trouble in the trailer park.”
Cook emphasized the attitude the show takes towards its subjects, “I direct the show to not make fun of people in a trailer park but to have fun with them. It is a very warm and loving salute to some of the coolest people on the planet.”
Doing this show for their inaugural season just made sense according to Cook. “The show won us 13 international awards at the Orlando Fringe Festival in 2010 and ever since that show played to standing room only, we have been asked to bring it back so many times and it is literally the show that I cannot get out of my mind,” expressed the director.
Of those 13 international awards, Heather Lynn Mendoza who played Betty in The Great American Trailer Park in 2010 took home “Best Actress in a Musical.” Mendoza is returning to reprise the role she knocked out of the park 8 years ago.
Heather, who went to school at Florida School of the Arts, now lives in Tampa Bay and makes the journey to Davenport because she loves the role of Betty and working with TheatreWorks Florida.
“That’s one of the main reasons I came back is because I know how successful the show was the first time around and how much fun I had with it. I wanted to go back and live in the trailer park some more, can’t get enough of it,” laughed Mendoza.
The theatre took a chance on this professional theatre newcomer according to Cook, something that paid off. As her first professional show out of college, Heather said, “It was huge for me when I won.” She remembered, “When I got it I was ecstatic, and when I won, it was probably one of the most pivotal moments in my life just because I was being recognized for something I worked for since I was in kindergarten and it really made such a good impact.”
Heather discussed how she identified with Betty’s character, “She’s a very strong, independent, and determined woman, but with a very loving, maternal side that she wants to care and fix everyone–and that’s kind of how I am, I want to fix everyone.”
“She just rocks this role, has a voice that could take the roof off, and understands the character, she’s so warm,” said the director of his returning actress. He continued, “I’m thrilled and beyond appreciative that she wants to come all this way to recreate this role.”
Heather Lynn Mendoza is the only one returning from the original cast. For the new cast, Scott knew he needed actors that were “triple treats” because of all seven roles being leads. The second thing Scott was looking for was, “actors who had absolutely no fear whatsoever and great adlib chops. The show is very interactive, especially with the trio, they talk directly to the audience and make them feel very welcome at the park.”
Cook says that TheatreWorks Florida is beyond amazed by the response they’ve gotten in their inaugural season, commenting, “We hope to just continue that journey, to keep bringing people in, to keep growing so we can offer more shows.” Though he can’t release the names of the shows he has lined up for next season, he did allude to it being a don’t-want-to-miss lineup.
In other exciting theatre news, TheatreWorks Florida has been granted $10,000 by the National Endowment for the Arts to launch their TheatreCares program, Vet Voices. Scott Cook spoke about how the theme for this program came about, saying, “We attended the 4th Summit of the National Initiative for Arts & Health in the Military and it sparked such an intrigue for me.” He also noted the personal attachment he had to this cause, explaining that their company manager is a 25-year veteran who has served in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The project will consist of 3, 10-week workshops that introduce veterans to theatre. The director said, “ In the end of our project, we will write an original musical play based on all of their lives that will presented to the public, not only for presentation but also for education and awareness.”
Scott concluded, “The goal here is not to create a show and the goal is also not to serve the theatrical needs of TheatreWorks Florida, but it is to serve our vets and create a safe space for healing and we sincerely hope this is an ongoing program that will go on for years and years.”
To purchase tickets to The Great American Trailer Park Musical or find out more information about Vet Voices, visit their website, www.theatreworksfl.org or give them a call at (407) 340-0472.
DAVENPORT COMMUNITY CAMPUS - THEATREWORKS FLORIDA THEATRE
8 W. Palmetto Street
Davenport, FL 33837