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Review: Genesius’ latest musical is racy romp through trailer park life

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REVIEW WRITTEN BY CHERYL THORNBURG 
cthornburg@pottsmerc.com
@MercArtsCheryl on Twitter

This was my first visit to “Trailer Park,” Genesius Theatre’s latest production, and it was one I won’t soon forget. “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is an irreverent romp filled with over-the top characters and catchy music delivered by some great singers and a live band.
The show is not for the kiddies as it is filled with sexual innuendos and situations and some inappropriate language, but if you’re looking for a laugh-filled night out, this just might be the ticket.
Set in Armadillo Acres, a Florida trailer park peopled by some deliberately stereotypical characters, this show takes potshots at today’s society with song lyrics and hilarious dialogue and one-liners.
The story centers around Norbert Garstecki and his wife Jeannie, who has agoraphobia and has not left their trailer in 20 years. Enter Pippi, the seductive stripper who moves in next door, and the inevitable happens. Keeping the various residents in line is Betty who owns the trailer park.
Director LJ Fecho has put together some of Berks County’s best comedic actors to deliver the crazy dialogue and music director Christopher Sperat has some of Berks County’s best vocalists belting out the songs.

Photo by Kathi Christie Joe Swaggerty as Duke in "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" at Genesius Theatre.

Photo by Kathi Christie
Joe Swaggerty as Duke in “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” at Genesius Theatre.

In “The Great American TV Show,” Christine Cieplinski is at the heart of many of the scenes as Betty and is hilarious as a Jerry Springer-like TV host instigating dialogue between Pippi, the slutty stripper, played to perfection by Kara Snyder, and Norbert, the philandering husband, played by Kevin Cooper. Cieplinski’s powerful voice is perfect for belting out numbers like “This Side of he Tracks.”
Snyder is mesmerizing as Pippi and delivers “The Buck Stops Here,” with a sultry and fun attitude and showcases her considerable vocal ability in a trio “But He’s Mine/It’s Never Easy,” with Beth Linzer as Jeannie and Cooper as Norbert.
Linzer is both a gifted comedienne and vocalist. Her inch-by-inch attempts to leave the trailer are hilarious, and vocally she handles the campy ‘”Flushed Down The Pipes” with “The Girls” with ease and showcases her voice in the softer duet “Owner of My Heart,” with Cooper.
Norbert is quite a departure for Cooper, who is better-known for his soaring vocals in roles such as Don Quixote in “Man of La Mancha,” but he has fun and is truly funny as the low-brow, redneck toll collector.
“The Girls” are a trio of the best comedic actresses (and singers) around – backing up, and sometimes upstaging Cieplinski are Cathy Miller as Linoleum and Mamie Covell as Pickles. The three are in most of the numbers and get to shine individually in “That’s Why I Love My Man.”
Rounding out the cast is Joe Swaggerty as Duke, who sheds his charming leading man persona and brings out his trashy side as Pippi’s marker-sniffing, gun-toting ex-boyfriend. Swaggerty relishes the role and delivers a likeable, if permanently inebriated scoundrel. He gets to show off his vocal skills in “Road Kill” with the Girls and Norbert.
“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” runs evenings through Sunday, Oct. 18. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. each night. A matinee performance is set for 3 p.m. Sunday Oct. 18. Tickets range from $17.50 to $28.50 Fridays and Saturdays and $17.50 to $23.50 Wednesday/Thursday and Sunday and are available at www.genesiusdifference.org or by calling 610-373-9500. Card fees apply. Tickets are also available at the door.
Genesius Theatre is located at 153 North 10th S. in Reading. The theater is handicapped accessible and there is free parking (limited spaces available) next to the theater. For more information, call the theater at 610-371-8151.

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