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Monday, May 05, 2008

Fine and fun "Lust ‘n Rust - The Trailer Park Musical," at the Valley Rep.

ENFIELD - Although tried-and-true classics like "Oklahoma!" and "The Music Man" are always dependable and popular shows for community theaters, it’s certainly refreshing and exciting to see a new musical, especially one as fine and fun as "Lust ‘n Rust - The Trailer Park Musical," now playing at the Valley Repertory Theater.
Their production is the New England premier of "Lust ‘n Rust - The Trailer Park Musical" by Frank Haney, Carol Kimball, and Dave Stratton, who hail from the Chicago area.
The plot involves an ambitious manager, Steve Morgan, played with ease by Gaetan "Jay" Michaud, who works for a company called "AgriBig." Morgan moves into a local trailer park in Twister Plaines, Illinois called the Redbud Mobile Estates, where an interesting collection of characters resides.
The owner of the trailer park, Red, is a easy-going tai chi practicing, folding chair philosopher, played with laid-back casualness by Gary Turell.
There is the requisite waitress with a big heart, Connie Kroesser, played by Janine Flood, who is in the process of divorcing her childhood sweetheart husband, the easily angered Duane, played by Chris Kibbe.
Other trailer park residents include the black beautician specializing in Caucasian women’s hair styling, Latisha Washington, played by Rhonda Oliver; Janette, a young mother with twins from two different fathers, played by Melissa Styche, and Tanya, a young flirtatious woman, played by Cassie Wood, who is married to Junior, played by Brent Alexander, but is carrying on a casual affair with Buzz, played by Brendan Albetski.
The characters could have easily regressed into stereotypes, but the actors imbued their roles with tenderness and feeling giving the musical an appealing sweetness.
Certainly not excessive, nor inappropriate, still it should be noted that profanity looms large in the show’s dialog.
While some of the songs were better than others, they were mostly country tunes, with a spicy Cajun duet called "Cajun Cooking," with Rhonda Oliver’s Latisha and Brendan Albetski’s Buzz, and a bouncy rap song sung by Oliver and Cassie Wood’s Tanya called "Caucasian Hair." Oliver has sung professionally as a gospel vocalist and was terrific.
Wood’s Tanya hits just the right tone of sassy sexiness, while Albetski’s Buzz transitioned from sad loser hanging onto the past to focusing on the future in a funny turn with Latisha about back hair waxing.
The singers’ voices were not amplified, which worked well most of the time, but occasionally they were overpowered by the three-piece band called "The Markley Brothers Band."
Comprised of Boyd Wood on keyboards, Bill Drouin on guitar, and Erin Moody on fiddle, the band was worth the price of admission.
Outstanding was the heartfelt lament "Let Her Go" by Chris Kibbe’s Duane. According to the program notes, Kibbe has toured professionally as a country music, southern gospel, and bluegrass singer, and it shows. His rendition could easily be a song heard on any country music station.
"Once Upon a Time" sung by Michaud, was a standout too, as was the beautifully haunting duet between Michaud and Kibbe called "Off to Mexico," about the "AgriBig" plant closing and moving to Mexico, even though the company was profitable. The plant is the major employer in town, leaving just about everyone out of a job - a pointed comment on corporate greed.
"Lust ‘n Rust - The Trailer Park Musical" is a fine, fun, earthy musical and at only $12 a ticket-a terrific bargain.
A side note - The Valley Repertory Company always puts a hard candy on each patron seat, and for this show, they even have little "Lust ‘n Rust - The Trailer Park Musical" press on tattoos on the seats.
For an excellent night of entertainment with a remarkable collection of talent under one roof, see the Valley Repertory Company’s production of "Lust ‘n Rust - The Trailer Park Musical."

Theater: Valley Repertory Theater
Location: 100 High Street, Enfield
Production: By Frank Haney, Carol Kimball, and Dave Stratton. Direction, technical direction, and lighting design by Eric Albetski. Musical direction by Boyd Wood. Produced by Jan Albetski. Stage manager Lisa Eaton. Costumes by Aya D’Amato.
Running time: 2 1/2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission
Show Times: Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m., through May 17.
Tickets: $12, seniors over 60 and youth 18 and under $10. Call 860-749-4665 or visit their website at

Gary Turrel...Red
Gaetan "Jay" Michaud...Steve Morgan
Lisa Eaton...Henderson
Janine Flood...Connie Kroesser
Chris Kibbe...Duane Kroesser
Melissa Styche ...Latisha Washington
Brendan Albetski ...Buzz
Cassie Wood ...Tanya
Brent Alexander ... Junior

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