BWW Reviews: Big Voices, Big Laughs Define THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL at The Circuit Playhouse
This was my first journey to Armadillo Acres abd I find the community and its residents hard to aptly describe. Suffice it to say, Betsy Kelso and David Nehls wrote a campy musical melodrama with comedy broader than a double-wide, a plot lighter than an aluminum lawn chair, and stereotypes bolder than a flock of pink flamingos. To my admiration, Director/Choreographer, Courtney Oliver, Music Director, Renee Kemper and seven highly-talented performers, have managed to spin this rather flimsy material into solid, non-stop, over-the-top fun.
This busy show, played on a wonderful single set designed by Jimmy Humphries, is carried by hilarious stage business, brilliant comic timing, fully-invested characterizations and impressive singing.
The premise is soap-opera simple: Galootish, toll booth collector, Norbert Garstecki (Kent Fleshman) stumbles into a strip club where he meets the fetching, mobile home wrecker, Pippi (Morgan Howard). The combustible combination of pole dancing and male mid-life crisis ignite into a red-hot affair which threatens Norbert's twenty-year marriage to devoted, but severely agoraphobic, Jeannie (Carla McDonald). This wonky love triangle is illuminated by an attentive Greek chorus of trailer park divas: Bad Ass Betty (Claire Kolheim), Lin (Caroline Simpson) and the not-so-bright Pickles, (Carly Crawford). Meanwhile, Pippi is on the run from her volatile, magic-marker-sniffing boyfriend, Duke (Richie MacLeod).
This dazzling ensemble, backed by The Trailer Park Band (Reneé Kemper, Josh Quinn, Matt Blake, Neal Enterman and David Pace) perform fourteen songs that include such titles as, "Flushed Down the Pipes," "Road Kill" and "It Doesn't Take a Genius." Shaky as these poetic metaphors may be, their renditions are substantiall. All in all, it's craft, instinct and energy that give this show its appeal. It may not be "great theatre" in the classic sense, but it's one helluva great evening!
The Great American Trailer Park Musical runs through March 23 at The Circuit Playhouse, 51 S. Cooper Street in Midtown Memphis. For more information or to make reservations, call 901-726-4656. Adult Language Advisory.