During the intermission for, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” with the song, “Flushed Down the Pipes,” still in my head, it only seemed fitting that this viewer asked others their thoughts of the play during a restroom visit.
I had to agree.
The musical starts with an introduction to Armadillo Acres by three of its tenants: Bad-Ass Betty (Patti Van Slyke), who according to the opening number, “This Side of the Tracks,” is a “sex-faker, headacher,” Lin (Andrea Graham), whose husband is on death row at the nearby prison, and Pickles (Kellie Degenhardt), who has what she claims is a hysterical pregnancy. The early performances of this Greek Chorus is strong, and their stamina remains throughout as they represent different characters to fill in the storyline.
The story revolves around four other characters: Norbert Garstecki (Jim Ramos), his agoraphobic wife Jeannie (Robin Bonsall), the new girl in town, stripper Pippi (Jennifer Forman), and Pippi’s Magic Marker-sniffing boyfriend Duke (Jamie Andrews, in his TCT debut). Again, the performances are strong, but Bonsall and Forman really make the most of the opportunities to shine vocally and otherwise. Forman gives it all to her character, and the audience, with a pole-dancing bit, and Bonsall’s acting performance ranges from hilarious to sad with just a look on her face and a tinge in her voice, drawing viewers into her tragedy (no spoilers here).
Before intermission, the audience is treated to a song by the full cast, “Storm’s A-Brewin'” reminiscent of the Disco anthem, “It’s Raining Men,” complete with a mirrored ball and shiny costumes.
In the second act, the audience gets to know Duke a little more with the song, “Road Kill.” The play ends rather predictably, but the vocal performances are the real pay-off. Pippi, Norbert and Jeannie share their heartbreak and confusion in the song, “But He’s Mine/It’s Never Easy.” Pippi and Jeannie later duet in the, “Finale,” which may include one of the best lines in musical theater history: “Make like a nail, and press on.” Mostly women will get the reference, but this is a play with a little bit of everything for its audience.
Much may be made of the supposed, “trashiness,” of the Great American Trailer Park Musical, and the language might get a bit rough, but this is a play about love, forgiveness, and leaning on those around us. Grab your friends and get to the trailer park, I mean theater for this musical before it’s gone!
[Review by Rio Cervantes-Reed | May 2012]