BWW Reviews: Ignite Theatre's THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL - a White Trash Winner!
Ignite Theatre continues their musical theater lineup with the premiere of Colorado's own David Nehls’ production of THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL (book by Betsy King) playing now through May 6th. Welcome to Armadillo Acres, where the luxury homes are double-wides, the women stand by their man whether they are six-feet-under or on death-row, and anything, and I do mean anything, can happen! If B-movies were musicals, which there are several (Batboy, Rocky Horror, Priscilla, Xanadu, Clue, and Carrie - the musical), then I would like to nominate this fun-filled campy musical as an instant cult-classic.
We knew we were in for a good time when we were greeted with PBRs on special and country music filling the air. I kind of wish they had also served wine from a box, but the PBR went down just fine. Honestly, if Sordid Lives had been a musical, I would like to think it would be similar to this show! The show opens with an introduction to everyone in the trailerhood with the up-tempo, “The Other Side of the Tracks.” The main story focuses on the classic love story of high school sweethearts, Norbert and Jeannie, who seem like the perfect couple of the park until one day when everything went horribly wrong and their baby was stolen. From then on, Jeannie stayed trapped in the trailer, and Norbert stayed frustrated. Now it is 20 years later, and Jeannie has promised that she will come out for their anniversary (“One Step Closer”). Meanwhile, a new tenant blows into town and seduces Norbert. Oh, did I mention that she is a stripper named Pippi? Jeannie finds out about the affair and laments in, “Love Flushed Down the Pipes.” Things get tense at the end of Act One with the rousing disco-inspired crowd pleaser, “Storm’s A-Brewin.” Act Two opens with Pippi's ex, Duke, coming ever closer to Armadillo Acres. The love triangle describes their frustrations in the most absurd way, which is OMG funny, in the “Lovers Lament.” Duke arrives in town and threatens everyone, but there's more to that story. Twists abound in the trailer park, and, in the end, everything wraps up with a nice little bow with the lovely song, “Press On.”
This set was fun to look at, and designer Benjy Shirm should be commended. There were two trailers, one for the band and the other one for the show that opened up for a very nice reveal. The set was littered with every tacky plastic thing imaginable that you would expect to find in a trailer park, and, to top it all off, they had a flagpole that also fittingly served as a stripper pole. The costumes were tacky and fabulous and so were all of those wigs! There were also several genius moments of choreography by Stephanie Prugh. “Storm’s A-Brewin” in Act One and “Lovers Lament” in Act had the audience and me in stitches. There were so many cute songs under the direction of Midge McMoyer Smith, and even though there were a couple of issues with volume balance with the band, for the most part, the amazing vocals of the cast really shone through. Director Pam Clifton should be proud of this wonderful production that flowed from funny moment to funny moment so well and was a hit with the audience.
Stephanie Hancock as Betty, the manager of Armadillo Acres and narrator of the show, was an absolute hoot and had great facial expressions and fierce vocals. Alix Brickledy as Pickles and Maggie Tisdale as Lin backed up the narrator like a sassy, white-trash Greek chorus and were simply funny and had great vocals as well. They all were key in the continuing flow of the show and seamless transitions. Patrick Brownson as the misguided husband Norbert was funny and just fun to watch, and his wife, Jeannie (played by Margie Lamb), was just adorable and gave such a sweet performance. Kia Chapman as Pippi, the stripper complicating the plot, really had some pipes on her and did an outstanding job, and Brandon Keller as the doped-up Duke also really complimented the show.
Like the AstroTurf and pink flamingos found on set, this musical is tacky, colorful, and funny. I couldn't get enough! So do not take your hair out of those curlers, grab a lawn chair and a PBR and go see this instant cult-classic! THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is tickling audiences now through May 6 at the Aurora Fox Arts Center in the Studio Theater. For tickets or more information, contact the box office at 720-362-2697 or online at www.lucentperformingarts.org.