Thursday, October 10, 2013

Five Questions With: Dawn Lebrecht Fornara, director of "The Great American Trailer Park Musical"

Alyssa Lee, Debi Guthery, Laura Needle and Lisa Federico in
"The Great American Trailer Park Musical" at the Naples Players.
"The Great American Trailer Park Musical" director/choreographer Dawn Lebrecht Fornara took time out of her busy schedule to give us a director questionnaire. Complete with her trademark snark, honed from years on the road as a dancer.

I had to edit a few things, but go behind the scenes to find out Dawn's take on the show, read her breakdown of the cast, thoughts on staging the show and why she absolutely won't reveal the funniest line of "Trailer Park."

PS: Find out why Dawn thinks the viewing public should attend in five words or less!

Read our previous Q&A with "Trailer Park" actor Randy Jones.
Up next week, a Q&A with "Trailer Park" actress Debi Guthery.

"The Great American Trailer Park Musical" runs through Nov. 2, 2013 at the Naples Players. Tickets are $40 for adults and $10 for children 18 and under. Call 239-263-7990 or online at

1) Talk about this play. What are audiences going to find out about themselves, life or theatre if they attend?

That it's OK to go to the theatre just to laugh for a while.  Not everything has to be "art."  There is an art to comedy, but not every piece of theatre has to be high-brow.  And even though much of this show is cartoonish caricature, people will recognize themselves in the show.  Also, it's vulgar and raunchy, but also sweet, with a nice story and sentiment.

2) Talk about your cast (one, two, all or none). Who's going to surprise folks?

It's always hard with small musicals, because they are by their very nature ensemble pieces, but I feel like we have a very strong cast.

Randy Jones (Norbert) usually specializes in flamboyant roles, but here he is simple and sincere, probably the most realistic and down-to-earth character in the show, and he's nailing it.

Jessica Walck (Pippi as of 5 minutes ago) is already off-book and bringing great energy to the show.

Alyssa Lee (Pickles) has had something "click" during this show with character development and performance.  She shines in this role.

Debi Guthery (Betty) is a consummate professional and a real leader in this show.  Her comic timing is impeccable and surprises every day with her brilliant choices and **********.

Lisa Federico (Lin aka "Linoleum") is playing one of the larger roles she has had in the last few years and is really stepping up to the plate.  It's a hard role, because she needs to be both "hard" and likable, and she is finding that delicate balance.

Greg Jensen (Duke) is such a pleasant surprise.  We hadn't met him before "Les Miserables," and he is so committed, fearless and eager.  He is very directable and outstanding in the show.

Laura Needle (Jeannie) shows incredible range after Fantine (in "Les Miserables").  Is there anything she can't do?  And this role seems to have been written for her.

3) What themes are you trying to illustrate in this show?

Community, forgiveness and second chances.

4) What is the most difficult (or most rewarding) part of staging this show?

The most difficult thing about staging this show is timing the comedy without an audience and without it seeming artificial.  Also, Jeannie being agoraphobic limits staging possibilities in an unusual way. Also, the set is, to some extent, dictated by the script; there HAVE to be trailers, trailer interiors - all of these things combine to make staging the show a challenge.

The most rewarding part is seeing the cast grow, laughing out loud every night as they discover more and more, and watching some actors who have been mostly cast in ensemble roles in the past blossom as principals.

5) In one sentence, tell the viewing public why they should attend?

This shit is funny, yo.

For extra credit, tell us the best line of dialogue from the show.

Absolutely not.  You can't print it anyway.

: She's probably right about that.

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