The Daily Gamecock

Amnesia shakes up trailer park community in new Christmas musical

<p>Larry Hembree, who directs the play, is the former executive director of Trustus Theatre.</p>
Larry Hembree, who directs the play, is the former executive director of Trustus Theatre.

"The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical" is a raunchy comedy that combines the Christmas season with Florida trailer park culture. The musical opened on Friday, Nov. 20 and is playing at Trustus Theatre until Dec. 19.

The show, the sequel to "The Great American Trailer Park Musical," is directed by Larry Hembree. Hembree spent three years as the executive director of Trustus before leaving the position in September, but has stuck around for this seasonal show.

“It is hard to describe [Hembree] because he is so much at once,” Matthew Deguire, who plays Jackie in the musical, said. “I think the best way to describe him is that he is a tornado of ideas wrapped around a hurricane of energy. There is never a dull moment.”

Hembree's energy is necessary to ensure the cohesiveness of the show.

“The hardest thing about directing, for me — and I see a lot of theatre — is making sure that everybody is in the same play,” Hembree said. “You might see a standout in a play or someone that is overacting and everyone else is kind of laid back. So I'm trying to find a way that makes everyone feel that they are in the same trailer park.”

In the play, Betty, played by Vicky Saye Henderson, and her friends Pickles, played by Katie Leitner, and Linoleum, played by Abigail Smith, are trying to decorate the trailer park to win a contest from Mobile Home and Garden to avoid the Armadillo Acres curse. The only person in their way is their neighbor Darlene, played by Caroline Weidner.

When Darlene is struck with amnesia, things seem bright and cheerful for Betty and the trailer park. But with the days until Christmas dwindling, Betty must keep Darlene from remembering her old scrooge self while testing neighborly friendship and eluding the curse.

Because of the amnesia, a relationship blossoms between Darlene and trailer park handyman Rufus, played by Kevin Bush. Darlene tries to deny her love for Rufus, saying that she is not her usual self and is confused. Meanwhile, Rufus is throwing back beers and feeling blue, thinking that he lost the love of his life.

“[Rufus] doesn’t really hate her, but she’s just so irrational in her hatred that he’s always on the defense about her,” Bush said. “I think in a way he feels a little sorry for her. He starts to see the good inside her when he helps her decorate, though, and discovers more about himself through that growing attraction. And, in the end, her redemption is what’s most important for him.“

A comedic and trailer park spin on the usual Christmas musical, "The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical" is now playing at Trustus Theatre, located in the Vista on Lady Street. Tickets are $25 for students at the box office.