Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Great American Trailer Park Musical is one fun ride!

The trailer park trio in The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Dan Davidson)
The Great American Trailer Park Musical
(at Richard Hugo House)
Through August 29, 2015

STAGEright started out, when they began producing, including musicals every once in a while. Their recent successes with musicals seem to have buoyed them to feel like they can really do this thing, and they’re doing them more and more. Given the feeling of fun and the level of talent in The Great American Trailer Park Musical, now play through August 29, they’re correct to do so!

Written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso, iIt explores the relationships between the tenants at the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in Florida, particularly between Pippi, "the stripper on the run," agoraphobic Jeannie, and Jeannie's tollbooth-collector husband Norbert. It was performed in the first annual New York Music Theater Festival in 2004 and Off-Broadway in 2005. It’s apparently a kind of “cult musical.”

Directed by Jay Irwin, it’s a feel-good, almost-but-not-quite-too-silly musical about trailer park residents and their woes. There is a Greek-chorus trio who lead things off hysterically: Loretta Howard, the belting baby-boomer, Tori Spero Dullenty, the confident millennial, and Walker Caplan, the gen-xer who plays a 17-year-old falsely pregnant teen. They begin with improvisational conversation you should really pay attention to, because it’s before the official start, and many audience members don’t have a clue what’s supposed to be happening.

Pippi (Cherisse Martinelli) is on the run from her ex-boyfriend (Kyle James Traver). She finds a job stripping near the trailer park and finds housing at the trailer park. So, she’s next door to Jeannie (Margaret Lamb) and Norbert (Casey Raiha) who are almost celebrating their 20th anniversary. But Jeannie is so agoraphobic, since the abduction of their infant son, 20 years ago, that neither she nor Norbert are sure she’ll be able to celebrate by going to the Icecapades.

Norbert hasn’t been “getting any” for years, so it’s not hard to think he’d find himself drawn to Pippi and things kind of go downhill from there for him. But it’s a whole lot of fun watching it happen!

One of the things I appreciated more than any other is that the sound, designed by John Huddlestun, with music directed by Josh Zimmerman, was loud enough to hear, but never overpowering! So many times, the band overpowers the singers! This balance was perfect.

The set design by John Ambose is quiet ingenious – the trailers open and close for inside viewing and there is still plenty of room in front of them for dancing. The choreography by John Huddlestun is simple but funny and appropriate. No need to overdo it!

Costumes are absolutely spot on for the whole range of residents, including moments of flashy performance (by Cherelle Ashby and Jonelle Cornwell) and since I’ve named everyone else, lighting by John Chenault seems just fine, too.

I went hoping I’d be able to laugh a lot and I was right. Do try to see this, but I’ve heard tickets might be hard to come by! Oops.

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