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New Depot Players reprise "Great American Trailer Park Musical"

The cast from "The Great American Trailer Park Musical (l-r Connie Davis as Pickles; Joe Cloer as Norbert; Patty Maguire as Betty; Courtney Bozaich as Pippi; and Amy LeCates as Linolem) get the "great American TV show" scene down pat as they rehearse for their play which opens on July 12. - Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

The cast from "The Great American Trailer Park Musical (l-r Connie Davis as Pickles; Joe Cloer as Norbert; Patty Maguire as Betty; Courtney Bozaich as Pippi; and Amy LeCates as Linolem) get the "great American TV show" scene down pat as they rehearse for their play which opens on July 12. - Staff photo by Sue Ann Kuhn-Smith

In 2010, the New Depot Players' summer-season staging of the ribald musical "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" proved to be one of the troupe's most well-attended productions of recent years.

"When we did this show two summers ago, we sold every performance for three weeks and even extended it for one more weekend and sold all of those performances as well," said director Jay Tryall, a longtime mainstay -- onstage and off -- of both the New Depot Players and the original Depot Players.

"The name just has that draw and instant curiosity about it -- people just wanted to see what it was about. The first couple of weeks, the name drew people, but in the last couple of weeks we had people coming back three or four times to see it."

The New Depot Players are reprising "Trailer Park," which two years ago was nominated for 13 Metro Atlanta Theatre Awards (winning for sound design). The musical -- which is rated PG due to language and adult situations and will be presented at Center Street Arts in Olde Town Conyers -- opens Thursday, July 12 for the first of 15 performances and closes Saturday, July 28.

"The only other time I can think of that we had crowds like this in the summer was six or seven years ago, when we did 'Always Patsy Cline,'" said Tryall, who also helmed the New Depot Players' 2010 production. "Patti McGuire played Patsy Cline back then and is playing Betty in 'Trailer Park.'"

Written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso and first staged in 2004 at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, "Trailer Park" tells the stories -- with a rock, country and blues music background, provided by a four-piece band -- of the denizens of a Florida trailer park known as Armadillo Acres, most notably, tollbooth operator Norbert and his agoraphobic wife Jeannie.

It seems Jeannie, who hasn't left the trailer in years and is devoted to Dr. Phil, is worried she could lose her man to the trailer park's newest resident, a stripper named Pippi. The action is often forwarded by a Greek chorus of bottle-blonde bystanders, Betty, Lin and Pickles.

"It's funny, in-your-face humor," said Tryall. "But at the same time, there's an actual storyline and you really care about these characters. You become attached to these characters, even the villain -- and they all have redeeming values."

There are a couple of changes in this year's "Trailer Park," said Tryall, who also serves as president of the New Depot Players board of directors and was a founding member of the artistic company of OnStage Atlanta. The production two years ago included a handful of extras that have been excised and some actors have different roles than in 2010.

"Two years ago, we originally wanted to do 'Lil Abner,' but we just didn't have the turnout we wanted for that show," he said. "So I needed to do a show I knew I could cast and ('Trailer Park') only has seven people. I included five or six extras for the show but this time we're sticking to the script and it's only seven people.

"Patty McGuire is returning in a lead role and Joe Cloer will return as (Norbert). We have two other ladies who were in the show last time who are playing different roles this time. Connie Davis was in the ensemble and this time she'll play Pickles and Courtney Bozaich played Pickles last time and this time will be Pippi."

Music obviously plays a key role in "Trailer Park" and Tryall said that end of the production (overseen by musical director Jonathan Sparks) will provide entertainment for everyone in the audience.

"The band is awesome," he said. "In terms of styles, there's a little bit of everything -- some country, rock 'n' roll, gospel, blues and even some Broadway. It's a hodge-podge, but I think anybody can find something they enjoy and can rock out to."

The staging of "Trailer Park" will also provide the New Depot Players the opportunity to announce their selections for the 2013 performance season. Still on the schedule for this year is the fall production of "Almost Maine" and the holiday mounting of an original work, "A Very Conyers Christmas."

When asked if the ensemble would once again consent to adding an extra weekend of performances of the demand existed, Tryall laughed and said, "It's possible but we're kind of hoping that doesn't happen. That's why we added those Saturday matinees. But we are hoping to have a good run and ticket sales are already picking up."

For ticket information, visit www.newdepotplayers.com or call 676-374-3224.