When Larry Sims and Frank Haney were jamming together in the band practice rooms at their high school in Bloomington, Ind., they never realized that many years later their paths would cross again in the form of the Georgia premier of Haney’s show, “Lust ‘n Rust: The Trailer Park Musical.”
“It’s just a kick in the pants that Larry’s doing it. It’s just a thrill that he’s doing it,” said Haney.
The play will have its Georgia premiere Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Colquitt County Arts Center, performed by the Arts Center Theatre.
Sims, co-director of the show with his wife Melissa, said that he and Haney had both been in bands in school but were never actually in a band together.
“We would get together during a free period and go to one of the practice rooms and just play guitars,” he said.
“I look forward to sitting down with him again,” said Haney.
He said they first reconnected on Facebook, and during their exchanges, Haney mentioned that he had written a musical that had been produced in several cities.
“I think ‘Wow, that’s cool and wouldn’t it be cool if we could do it in Moultrie’,” said Sims.
He said that it was a couple of years ago that he saw the script for sale in the booth of Samuel French, an international play representation company, at the South Eastern Theatre Conference in Lexington, Ky.
“To actually see it in print was great. Of course we have bounced messages back and forth over the past couple of year,” he said.
So, last year, when ACT (Arts Center Theatre) was putting its season together, the show was scheduled.
“When I read it, I thought it would play really well in South Georgia. We know these characters,” he said.
“Lust ‘n Rust: The Trailer Park Musical” is the story of Steve, a corporate manager from New Jersey who is transferred to a small Southern Illinois town to run the local food processing plant. He moves into the Redbud Mobile Estates and meets the “quirky characters” who also make the trailer park their home, including Connie, a waitress, with whom he develops a relationship. He is then given an assignment from the corporate office that could have detrimental affects on the entire community.
According to the musical’s website, lustnrust.com, “The spirit of the Redbud Mobile Estates can be summed up by the chorus of a country-waltz anthem sung by the cast: Here at the Redbud, you won’t be impressed. Mostly we sit back and chill. Here at the Redbud, you won’t get depressed. Play tunes and fire up the grill.”
The official website for the show also advertises the Georgia premier and gives a link to the Colquitt County Arts Center’s website. This is great exposure for Moultrie and Colquitt County, said Sims.
The show, which has been produced nine or ten times, including a six-week run in Los Angeles last spring, will be produced in upstate New York later this year, said Haney.
“We think this is the start of a great thing,” he added.
The show got its start in Haney’s living room with co-author Carol Kimball and him coming up with songs and his wife as an audience.
“It was easy and fun to start writing this stuff,” he said.
After they had the songs and music written, the two brought it to Dave Stratton, who put the story together, said Haney. He said he had worked with Stratton as a film producer and Kimball was a production assistant on one of his shoots.
Initially, the idea came from an article Haney had read about an RCA plant shutting down and the impact it had on the community and its economy.
“I thought it was awful,” he said.
Haney said the show was fun but it had a social conscience to it, as well.
“Part of the underlying thing to this is don’t judge a book by its cover. I had a lot of friends living in trailers, especially in college,” he said.
Sims said that if the political undertone of the show was looked at, it was about corporate responsibility.
“Even though its got those undertones, it’s still a slapstick comedy. I think people will relate to it and enjoy it,” he said.
Haney said that both he and his co-authors came from small towns and were thrilled to have the show being performed in the South.
“We understand the small town aspect of it. We didn’t want this to be a cartoon show. We wanted real people with real feelings,” he said.
The show was first performed as a staged reading at the Comedy Club in Chicago, in 1999.
“And it went over real well and we got backing,” Haney said.
They pulled a show together and premiered it at the Theatre Building Chicago and it was a good, strong run, he said. Then, they sent the script to Samuel French and the international company picked it up and more productions were mounted.
“It’s been really fun for us and getting it published was great,” he added.
He said he knew Sims would do a great job with it and he looked forward to seeing the production. Haney will be in Moultrie to attend the Friday and Saturday night performances.
“It’s really exciting to have one of the writers here,” said Sims.
Sims said another exciting thing for him was putting together a band to play the music for the show just like he did for ACT’s successful production of “Always ... Patsy Cline.”
“I think the music is good and people will really enjoy it. We’ll have a live band. That’s one of the things I like ... having a live band. It makes it interesting,” he said.
“We have a fantastic cast that has worked hard to make this a great show. It has been a fun ride and I can't wait to share it,” said Melissa Sims.
“It’s a lot of good, local talent up there,” added Larry Sims, who will be playing guitar in the show.
The cast includes Wes Friedlander, Amzie Cooper, Steve Weber, Clay Newton, Lakeysha Adams, Tabatha Radcliff, Joe Wesson, Mickey Key and Tara Tolbert. The band members, along with Sims, are Ken Collier, Brandt Sims, David Hawkins and Angelie Lipscomb.
“Lust n’ Rust: The Trailer Park Musical” will open on Friday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in Wright Auditorium at the Colquitt County Arts Center. It will continue Saturday, March 24, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, March 25, at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 and can be purchased at the arts center or from a cast member of the show.
Also, on Sunday, a brunch will be in the McCall Gallery with Chef Vanessa Hayes. Her soul food menu will include entrees of turkey and dressing and oven fried chicken along with sides and desserts. A portion of the proceeds from every meal will go the arts center’s scholarship fund. Please contact Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations. The cost of the meal is $12 for adults, $6 for children 12 and under, and children under 5 eat free. Brunch will be served from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m.