Kelsey Theatre

Trailer park people need love too. They're not all like the unpleasant chair-throwing folks on The Jerry Springer Show.
On May 28, 2007 - By Carol Kimball

'Lust 'n Rust,' a country rock musical,

seeks the humanity in a trailer park. 

   Trailer park people need love too. They're not all like the unpleasant chair-throwing folks on The Jerry Springer Show.
   At least, that's what Pierrot Productions Artistic Director Pete LaBriola says of the fictional residents of Redbud Mobile Estates in Twister Plaines, Ark. These rowdy, funny, salt-of-the-earth human beings populate Lust 'n Rust: The Trailer Park Musical, coming to Mercer County Community College's Kelsey Theatre in West Windsor May 4 through 12.
   "While most of our country's view would be that people who live in trailer parks come from the world of (daytime television), you'll find these folks to be a heck of a lot more likable," says Mr. LaBriola. "The only one who takes a punch probably really deserves it. Maybe their daily activities might be more like Jerry Springer's guests, things like sitting around the trailer park with a six-pack or making out in the back of a pickup truck. But they're like everyone else if you're threatening their livelihood."
   Written with a lighthearted, affectionate touch by Frank Haney, Carol Kimball and Dave Stratton, Lust 'n Rust debuted in Chicago in 2001. The country rock musical's story underscores the more serious issues of corporate responsibility, class divisions and tolerance. The folks in Twister Plaines rely on their job security at the local food processing plant and when the future of their employment is uncertain, they understandably worry.
   When Steve (John Kollmer), the new manager of the plant, arrives in town, he gets ensnared in the lives, loves and heartaches of the Redbud residents. In fact he has a bad case of love at first sight when he spots Connie (Joanna Woodruff) waitressing at the local diner.
   "As Steve introduces himself and the play opens, Connie and Duane (Jack Bathke) have just split up, Junior and Tanya (Paul Saunders and Ileana Hernandez) are married but Tanya is fooling around, and Red and Janette (Tom Bessellieu and Laurie Hardy) have eyes for each other," Mr. LaBriola says. "Into this mix comes Steve — designated the regional plant manager for AgriBig. There's an ulterior motive for his being sent there to Twister Plaines. The local residents and the employees of the plant are worried that Steve's mission may be to cut back on their overtime, but the company has something much more sinister in mind."
   Circumstances like this are happening all over the country. Think of the many communities in the U.S. that have turned into ghost towns when the only employer in town was taken over or shut down. Bethlehem, Pa., comes to mind. "The play has a social conscience," Mr. LaBriola says. "There's a little message about the corporate world, which can always use a good dig now and then."
   While the play aims to entertain, the conflicts that drive the story touch on issues of corporate responsibility, class divisions and tolerance. Without getting heavy-handed, the underlying message is to look beyond such stereotypes as "yuppie" and "trailer trash" to see the humanity of the individual person. As the cast sings, "We're people, and nobody's trash."
   "It would have been very easy to turn the residents of the Redbud Mobile Estates into two-dimensional cartoons, and make the play simply a succession of redneck jokes," write the playwrights on the show's Web site ( "The songs we were writing deserved much more than that, and we succeeded in writing a story that fully supports the music. Though the characters first appear to be stereotypes, their humanity and complexity is soon revealed."
   "The same messages that apply to these characters apply to anyone, anywhere at any time," Mr. LaBriola says. "It's easy for us to distance ourselves from the travails of people like this. People get a guilty pleasure watching 'Jerry Springer' and saying, 'Oh well, we're not like them.' But in certain ways everyone is like everyone else."
   When Steve moves to Twister Plaines, he moves into the trailer park — which tips you off that his company hasn't made this a long-term assignment. As he gets to know Connie and his neighbors better, his feelings for them change. He sees firsthand that they're not just numbers on a corporate account sheet. When the time comes for drastic actions to be taken, he is torn between his job and his newly developed loyalties.
   "Maybe people will come away thinking, 'OK, some people do get the short end of the stick from the corporate world and that isn't right,'" Mr. LaBriola says. "But it's very definitely a comedy — it's there for people to enjoy and have fun with."
   One of the best numbers in Lust 'n Rust showcases Latisha (Tamesha Hawkins), a "home girl" from Chicago who moved south to find better job opportunities. In making the change, she discovers that she has a particular knack for styling "Caucasian hair."
   "So she does this country rap song, 'Caucasian Hair,'" Mr. LaBriola says. "It was originally written as dialogue but the writers realized it would be more fun as a rap song.  'Lust 'n Rust' is not the first country music musical. There are other small musicals, 'Pump Boys and Dinettes' for example, but there's no preponderance of them. We were reviewing various shows that were available and we found this. It's something different and that's what we wanted to do."

Lust 'n Rust: The Trailer Park Musical will be staged at the Kelsey Theatre, Mercer County Community College, 1200 Old Trenton Road, West Windsor, May 4-5, 11, 8 p.m.; May 6, 2 p.m.; May 12, 2 and 8 p.m. Tickets cost $16, $12 seniors, $10 students. (609) 570-3333;


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Press Contacts
Carol Kimball


tel: 773-793-8893

David Stratton


tel: 847-963-0812

Frank Haney


tel: 847-409-1224

About Lust 'n Rust, The Trailer Park Musical

Productions of Lust 'n Rust are popping up all around the country as theatre companies are discovering this delightful play by Frank Haney, Carol Kimball and Dave Stratton.

Productions were mounted in:

Trenton, NJ, at The Kelsey Theatre, 2007

Prince Frederick, MD,at the Patuxent Playhouse, 2007

Enfield, CT at the Valley Rep Theatre, 2008

Hollywood, CA, at the Lyric Theatre, 2011

Moultrie, GA, at The Arts Centre Theatre, 2012

Kingston, NY, at the Coach House Players, 2012

Watch for upcoming shows!

Lust 'n Rust, The Trailer Park Musical