Trailer parks — even when they’re not being leveled by tornadoes — get a bad rap. Imagination Studios director Cathi Horton loves them, though. It was her idea to turn a trailer park into a microcosm of happiness. Enlisting the help of local playwright Bill Nelson, she created Welcome to Paradise, a monthly theatrical serial that’s like a sitcom on wheels.
“We wanted two gay guys, two lesbians, two straight people for sure and then whoever extra is good, because we wanted to focus on diversity,” Nelson says of the cast of characters. “The whole point is all these people living in harmony. [It’s] a utopia for the world to take an example from, though they’re all neurotic or insane.”
The show marks the directing debut of actress Cathy Barnett, who says the show will be similar to environmental theater pieces — Tony ‘n’ Tina’s Wedding without the ziti. “The audience will have to look at six different areas. We’re asking the audience to make concessions of being uncomfortable and turning around, but that’s part of the fun.”
Among the characters are lesbians Brie and Zoe, male couple Trent and Montana and a hunky newcomer named Bob, who has “a skin condition that makes him have his shirt off the whole time,” Barnett says. “He’s eye candy for everybody.”
Nelson admits that, though the show is like a rainbow-flagged soap opera, he’s generally not a soap fan. “But I like to make fun of them,” he says, promising that each month will bring new romantic entanglements and peccadilloes. The plot revolves around a courtyard party put on by the residents, an event that reflects Nelson’s intention. “That’s what we’re doing,” he says. “A party every month.”