BWW Review: TexArts THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is Great Adult Fun
If you've ever wondered what the home life of the guests on Jerry Springer was like, you're in luck! THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL, written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso, is an adult musical romp about the tenants of Armadillo Acres, Florida's most "exclusive" trailer park. It was first performed at the very first annual New York Music Theater Festival in 2004 and made its Off-Broadway debut in 2005. When Pippi (Emily Villarreal), a stripper on the run, becomes the newest tenant, she comes between the agoraphobic Jeannie (Julie Foster) and Norbert (Jarret Mallon) her tollbooth collector husband. What ensues is a hilarious whirlwind tour of a world filled with adultery, strip clubs, flan, spray cheese, ex-boyfriends, permanent marker sniffing, storms, press-on nails and the Ice Capades. There's no deep message here, but there are plenty of laughs, winning performances and great singing voices.
Narrating the story are a trio of tenants, Betty (Boni Hester), Pickles (Alyssa Malgeri) and Lin (Cara Statham Serber), which is short for linoleum. These three not only narrate, but also play a variety of other characters throughout the story.
Thanks to the fast moving and clever direction of Sarah Gay the show runs like clock work and is constantly entertaining. Susan Finnigan as music director gets some truly lovely harmonies out of this seven member ensemble, especially notable in the duet "Owner of My Heart", between Norbert and Jeannie. Hannah Arguelles'a choreography works nicely but could be more energetic, especially during the Act One finale. Kevin Squires set design is bright and fun and contains some nice design surprises, especially where Jeannie and Norbert's trailer is concerned. Benjamin Taylor Ridgway's costumes are a wacky, appropriately colorful display of Wal-Mart's Sunday best tacky, with the exception of one unfortunate jumpsuit.
There isn't a weak link in this cast and there are some truly excellent performances. Emily Villarreal is a total charmer as Pippi, with terrific timing and a beautiful singing voice. Jarret Mallon brings a wonderful vulnerability and sensitivity to Norbert that makes you root for him. Zach Thompson is hilarious as Duke, with a marvelous full body physicality and rubber faced expressions. His Act Two opener "Roadkill" is a highlight. Cara Statham Serber brings a delightful mix of biker chick meets Desperate Housewive to her portrayal of Lin; however, it is the riotously funny Alyssa Malgeri, as Pickles, who almost walks off with the whole show neatly tucked under her arm. From her voice to her expressions, Malgeri delivers a winning performance that demands you watch her when she's on stage.
For a fun and funny summer escape, take a trip to Armadillo Acres and spend a couple hours with the residents of THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL. It's a tuneful good time and you'll be glad you did.
THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL - Book by Betsy Kelso, Music & Lyrics by David Nehls
Running Time: Approximately Two Hours including intermission. Contains adult themes and language, 17+ welcome.
THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL produced by TexArts, playing in the Kam and James Morris Studio (2300 Lohman's Spur, Suite 160, Lakeway, TX, 78734).
Thursdays-Sundays, August 17 - September 01, 2018 at 7:30 PM and 2:00 PM.
Tickets: Single tickets start at $43. Single tickets are available by calling the TexARTS Box Office at 512-852-9079 x101 or at www.tex-arts.org. Group rates are available.
Show times: Aug. 17, 18; 23, 24, 25; 29, 30, 31 & Sept. 1 at 7:30 PM, and Aug. 19, 26 & Sept. 1 at 2:00 PM