When Weehawken resident Catherine Fres Vaughn stars in a production of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” this summer in Gainesville, Fla., she’ll play a woman who hasn’t come out of her trailer for 20 years.
“I did the U.S. regional production [back in 2006] at the Hippodrome State Theatre in Gainesville,” said Vaughn. “It was a very successful production for them and we were sold out.”
“It has a lot of jokes and it’s a funny piece, but there are some serious tones to it too.” – Catherine Fres Vaughn
“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is a two-act play written by Betsy Kelso with music by David Nehls, which debuted off-Broadway in 2005. The production received many positive reviews, and has since started to appear in other theaters around the country.
“It’s fairly new,” said Vaughn. “It has a lot of jokes and it’s a funny piece, but there are some serious tones to it, too.”
She added, “There is a tour out now, and other theaters are starting to [take on] the production.”
Vaughn has had a working relationship with the Hippodrome Theatre since 1992, when she sent an audition inquiry for their upcoming production of “Nunsense.”
“They were looking to fill the role of the youngest nun [in the production] and I sent them my resume and photo with a Post-It on it saying ‘I look good in a habit,’ ” said Vaughn, who at the time was living in Los Angeles and was already playing a nun in a production called “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?”
Since then, Vaughn has been in “Nunsense” twice for the Hippodrome Theatre, and was on tour with them in 2002.
Made for the stage
Originally from Los Angeles, Vaughn has been acting, singing, and dancing since she was a little girl.
“My parents were actors so I guess I was born into it,” said Vaughn. “I started when I was 5 or 6 years old, and my first job was on television when I was 12.”
Vaughn’s father was in musical theater and met her mother when she gave him singing lessons. Following in their footsteps, Vaughn began with ballet training at the age of 5, and acting lessons followed. She also studied singing with her mother.
While studying political science at the University of Southern California, Vaughn decided to move to New York City at the age of 18 to pursue her acting career.
“I was in college, and I thought if I’m going to do this professionally I should see what it’s like to audition,” said Vaughn.
Was a Rockette
Within the first month, she was hired as a dancer and singer for Radio City Music Hall, and performed with the famous Radio City Rockettes.
“I danced with the Rockettes, but never as a Rockette,” said Vaughn. “It’s such a beautiful theater and has such a wonderful history.”
After a few years of working in New York, Vaughn returned to Los Angeles and worked there for 13 years. She moved back to the New York metropolitan area in the 1990s.
She was on tour for two years with “Beauty and the Beast” from 1997 to 1998, where she played one of the three “silly girls.” “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” was her first Broadway production, and she was also in the Los Angeles company of “Cats.” Vaughn also did the “Wizard of Oz” as an understudy for Dorothy, and performed every night as one of the Wicked Witch’s flying monkeys.
“I have had a very eclectic career and my work has taken me all over the country,” she said.
Her diverse career has been like the roles she plays, Vaughn said, switching between genres, including comedy and drama.
“I love comedy and I love to make people laugh,” said Vaughn.
Moving to Weehawken
Vaughn, her husband Geoffrey – a stagehand on Broadway – and their daughter moved to Weehawken from the Poconos about a year ago, to still have a house but to be closer to the city.
“Now we have the best of both worlds,” said Vaughn. “The neighborhood is very welcoming, and the people have been so friendly since we moved here.”
For more information on “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” visit http://thehipp.org.
Jessica Rosero may be reached at email@example.com.