BWW Reviews: York Little Theatre's GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL Is Trailer-Trashy Fun
Some shows never make Broadway, and it's only fair that some Off-Broadway shows make it big. A fair number of America's favorite shows aren't Broadway shows, and David Nehls and Betsy Kelso's THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is one of them. Starting life in 2004 at the New York Music Theatre Festival, it went on to New World Stages and to regional premieres in short order - it's even already had a national tour, and some Broadway shows never get that far.
America's musical paean to trailer trash (of all forms) is at York Little Theatre right now under the capable direction of Duane Baker, who's given the area the same show previously at Little Theatre of Mechanicsburg, and who cast some of his prior Mechanicsburg cast, wisely, in the show. It's in the black box Studio Theatre, where it's in small but well-used space, with a hopelessly funny and delightful set, trailers in various shades of condition and of pastel paint sharing space with mailboxes, pink flaming decorations, and wading pools. This is Armadillo Acres, Florida's finest manufactured housing community, a hotbed of adultery, polyester, magic-marker huffing, and bad hair that would bring joy to John Waters' heart.
If only... if only... if only all of those trailer Christmas lights and those electric-bulbed pink flamingoes decorating the one yard would actually be lit up at some point during the proceedings, what a fine world this would be. Please, YLT, light all the tacky bulbs at some point during the run. Other than this devastating flaw, Ray Olewiler's set is a masterpiece of pre-fab architectural highlights.
The characters, like a cheap wine one of them might purchase, are best described as delightfully tacky, yet unpretentious, with an air of Pabst Blue Ribbon that lingers on the palate. The trio of Betty, Donna ("Pickles") and Linoleum ("Lin"), played by area theatre veteran Becky Wilcox and by Marisa Hoover and Stacey D. Schell, are the narrators-of-sorts of the reality show that is life in Armadillo Acres, helping non-natives make sense of its unusual rituals and activities. Aside from being powerful as Betty, Becky Wilcox is also perhaps the best Sally Jessy Raphael impersonator the area will ever see (though one admits this may be a bit of a specialty), while Lin is priceless in her efforts to see that her husband isn't executed in prison. (Electrical overuse is important.) Pickles is having a hysterically hysterical pregnancy, the results of which are... unexpected. Marisa Hoover's experienced with the show and a fine dancer; if only she were more audible while singing, the audience would be perfectly served by her.
The center of the show is the marital drama of Norbert (a delightful Aaron Dalton) and the agoraphobic, house-bound Jeannie (Karen Steelman, believably afraid of sticking her toes outside that door), approaching their 20th anniversary and a pair of Ice Capades tickets for the occasion that would require that Jeannie actually leave the trailer for the first time in decades. Can Jeannie leave the trailer? What will Norbert do if she doesn't? Will the new neighbor in slutty stretch leopardskin outfits and belly shirts affect the situation? Will Betty, Lin, and Pickles notice the shenanigans in Armadillo Acres? And what about new neighbor Pippi's ex-boyfriend from Oklahoma, Duke? These are deep and weighty issues.
Musical numbers include the opening "This Side of the Tracks," well worth humming on your way out the door, "The Great American TV Show," lampooning reality-drama talk shows (Becky Wilcox is outstanding here), and "Storm's A-Brewin" - the latter referring to both actual and metaphorical conditions.
There's plenty of trailer trash to be found here, whether in the complex's residents, their refuse, or in their houses - at least in Jeannie's trailer, which does indeed become trashed near the end of the show.
The ending is contrived and obvious - and it is supposed to be. Even less than fully observant audiences should guess what's going to come down the pike at the end by the time intermission rolls around. Just don't tell your friends and ruin the fun.
YLT's been on a roll, and this production, while not a major one, and even with the minor flaws it does have, is still very much part of that progress. It's a fun production full of mindless fun, and audiences are sure to be entertained by its amazing turns of events. Possible audiences should be warned, though - this musical is rude, crude, and socially unacceptable. The language is worse than the trailer park hair, and as blue as Lin's eye shadow, though it merely matches the plot and the general approach to life of the show's characters. Armadillo Acres is not the home of a church choir, folks. If you want clean language and fine morals, go elsewhere fast. But if you're out to have a good time and you aren't easily disturbed by certain lapses in polite social behavior and language, pull your Dodge RAM right up to the fence and sit yourself down by the wading pool.