BWW Reviews: Stray Dog Theatre's Side-Splitting THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK CHRISTMAS MUSICAL
Have you ever seen a sequel to a show and thought, wow, that was even better than the original? Well, that's what you're going to think if you take the time to check out Stray Dog Theatre's current production of The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical (book by Betsy Kelso, with music and lyrics by David Nehls), and you really should see it. It's a return to Starke, Florida, the home of Armadillo Acres, where The Great American Trailer Park Musical took place. It's your chance to catch up on what's been happening in the lives of the amusing and bawdy trio of Betty, Pickles and Linoleum, since we last left them. If you're looking for a quirky Christmas show that's extremely funny and a little bit raunchy, then you owe it to yourself to see this show.
It's a couple weeks before Christmas and Betty has finally been able to persuade a magazine devoted to trailer parks to visit their humble surroundings in the hopes of receiving a $10,000 payout for their park's tacky and over the top holiday décor. But, bitchy neighbor Darlene Seward is not only opposed to their antics, but downright nasty about her feelings towards the holiday season. It seems she's never gotten over the death of her motorcycle riding fiancee, who gave her a ring during one yuletide season, and then slid to his demise on a patch of ice. However, when she attempts to unplug her cable-stealing neighbor's connection, she receives a jolt that leaves her with a case of amnesia. Her sudden change of attitude brings a welcome sigh of relief to her fellow trailer park denizens, but what will happen if she regains her memory and returns to her evil ways?
Once again we have a cast that seems to be having a great deal of fun performing this show, and that makes the humor all that more infectious. Laura Kyro is sharp as a tack as Betty, the leader of the pack. Jessica Tilghman is a cute and daffy riot as Pickles, and Kay Love does a great job as Lin (short for Linoleum). Kevin O'Brien adds to the merriment as Rufus Jeter, a man who takes on way too many jobs in order to make ends meet. Gerry Love is nutty as Jackson "Jackie" Boudreuax, the owner of the local pancake house, that's more like a breakfast version of Hooters, and Paula Stoff Dean nearly steals the show as as the Grinch-like Darlene Seward.
Justin Been's direction mines this material for maximum laugh potential, and his cast is so into it that they even crack each other up from time to time, which actually makes the show even more of an enjoyable ride. Jamie Lynn Eros choreographs the piece with tongue firmly in cheek, and Eileen Engel's costumes add immensely to the humor on display. Rob Lippert's scenic design fills the stage with trashy delights, and Tyler Duenow's lighting scheme is on point, especially during some key dream sequences that occur. Musical director/keyboardist Chris Petersen's work is a bit muted at times, but he and the band, which includes M. Joshua Ryan (electric bass), Adam Rugo (guitar), and Bob McMahon (percussion) provide nice backing for the crazy musical numbers. The songs themselves are a riot, and rather than spoil their naughty charms, I'll just say that the closer for act one would probably be considered memorably blasphemous by some, but left me and the audience convulsing with laughter.
Break out the "keg nog" and enjoy the winter wonderland that is Armadillo Acres by taking in this incredibly silly and entertaining show! Stray Dog Theatre's production of The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical continues through December 20, 2014 at the Tower Grove Abbey.
Photo credit: John Lamb