Review: The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Posted on 23 Jul 2010 by Mitch Metz
Opening night always carries a special sort of energy with it, but this time there were a few surprises. I knew I was in for something a little different when the beautiful woman behind the counter asked for ID, and said my Costco card would be fine. Then, I looked up to see Pabst Blue Ribbon at the concession stand. Oh yeah, “this here’s gonna be good”. Heck, even as I pulled into the parking lot, I was pink with envy seeing flamingos in the yard. Made me laugh so hard, I almost dropped the magic marker I was sniffing. Then, upon entering the theater, I was thrilled to see a packed house at Actor’s Theater Of Charlotte… always better that way!
The Great American Trailer Park Musical is a bouncy, quirky, entertaining show with all the stereotypes we’ve come to love. We have a little sex, some psychosis, and a touch of potty-mouth, mixed in with your classic “call the neighbors, wake the kids” kind of fun. The audience gets to take a peek into the lives of 7 characters in Armadillo Acres, a resting place for manufactured homes, and Betty’s former husband. There is a love triangle involving a toll booth worker, his agoraphobic wife, and a well traveled stripper. There’s a storm, ol’ sparky on death row, and my personal favorite, baby-daddy drama. We laugh, we moan, we laugh some more. This is just plain old fun, with a side of groove.
Narrating, is a trio of sunbathing beauties, Betty, Lin, and Pickles (The Girls). They do a wonderful job of setting the stage and leading us through the story with great energy and a quick pace. The ladies work well together, and play off each other nicely. Betty (Taffy Allen) is the owner/proprietor of this little piece of mobile heaven, and provides strong vocals during the show’s opening number, This Side Of The Tracks. Taffy seemed incredibly comfortable on stage, and easily pulled off this “mama” type role. Lin (Carmen Schultz) is a sexually frustrated, soon to be widow who adds plenty of laugh lines along the way. The third member of our trinity is Pickles (Cassandra Howley Wood), the underage waif who’s enjoying her hysterical pregnancy. Cassandra delivered an unbelievable performance of the ditzy but loveable teenager. Her comedic timing is crucial to the flow of the show, and she absolutely nailed it. Well done! The Girls were particularly entertaining during a second act show-stopper, That’s Why I Love My Man, where each describes what floats their boat.
Norbert (Matthew Corbett) and Jeannie (Lisa Smith Bradley) have been living in the trailer park since their shotgun wedding (would you expect any less) 20 years prior. Norbert goes to work, Jeannie won’t leave the trailer, but sends him off with lunch and snacks, and that’s about all there is to it. Matthew’s voice is a little weak, and his character was perhaps too mousey. I enjoyed his performance, but felt it could have been supersized. Lisa once again brought her awesome set of pipes to the stage, filling the intimate theater, and played the neurotic housewife perfectly.
Flying into town to cause a stir is Pippi the stripper (Heather Hamby). Pippi is running from ex-lover Duke (Ryan Stamey), and after an almost titilating striptease, runs across Norbert. The two realize they’re neighbors, and the cheatin’ begins. When Duke finally finds her, after a long journey and a little Road Kill, all kinds of trouble ensue. Heather is solid, not spectacular, but good manners prevent me from saying anything derogitory about a young lady who’s just flashed me her breasts. Seriously though, it’s a good performance of the hardened stripper, and her above average voice helped make But He’s Mine/It’s Never Easy (Pippi/Norbert/Jeannie) the song of the night. Ryan’s energy on stage is desperately needed by the time he joins the ensemble. His overzealous ham-acting is much appreciated, and adds a new dimension to the show. When things got a little slow, I could actually hear the audience thinking “I hope that crazy ass Duke comes back out soon”.
In the end, things turn out just fine for everyone (except the satellite dish) due to a shocking, “Sixth Sense” type of ending! No, just kidding, it’s a trailer park… you’ll probably figure it out, but it’s funny, and funny is what this show is all about. The actors are having a blast, and the audience joins right in. So order yourself up a few PBRs, sit on down, and let your brain relax for a couple of hours. We all know a trailer park dweller or two, and you’ll probably hear something like “damn, that was funny when that Pickles girl was saying them things about that flan… what is that anyway?” on the way out. This comedy is not limited to the stage… it’s real life.
Director Dennis Delamar kept anyone from being too terribly awful, but could have asked the cast to be a bit “bigger”. Musical Director Marty Gregory did a particularly good job with The Girls as their harmony was dead on. Choreographer Eddie Mabry got a decent amount of movement out of most everyone, but we don’t get any real dancing in the show. The set was cute, and it was especially fun to see the depth they managed to squeeze out of the tiny stage, most notably the inside/outside of Jeannie’s trailer. Lighting and sound were good, and while at times the band overwhelmed the voices, we were still able to understand most of the lyrics.
Overall, this is a lot of fun! The Great American Trailer Park Musical entertains the redneck in each and every one of us. I’m coming back in two weeks to see it again, and to see how the cast has evolved. It feels like, with this talented group, the show will continue to get better and better as it runs. So grab you a pair of daisy dukes and your favorite tank top, and come on out to see what it’s like on this side of the tracks, playing now through August 14th. You’ll laugh ’til you stop!
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the show! We’ll look forward to having you back in a couple of weeks.
For those of you on a budget, tomorrow night, July 28th is “pay what you can” night for the show!!!
I brought some friends last Thursday night (sold out) and we throughly enjoyed the show. We laughed a lot and love the facial expressions of all of the actors. I am trying to arrange to see it again this week.
I worked crew on “In to the Woods” at Theater Charlotte about 11 years ago when Lisa played the Witch. It was good to see her and hear her sing again.
I hope to see you all soon!