Review: TRAILER PARK TRIALS AND TRIBULATIONS at Show Palace Dinner Theatre

By: Apr. 16, 2017

On opening night, you expect maybe a kink or two still working its way out. You don't necessarily expect a flawless show; yet flawless is the only accurate adjective for the inaugural performance of THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL at Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson.

When I heard the title, I knew exactly what was in store and I was right - sort of. Though the campy spoof did use every preconceived notion and cliché about trailer parks and its residents and pack them into 120 minutes, it did so with lots of heart and southern Stark, Florida charm.

Yep Florida. I admit I was excited to actually know the places mentioned in the musical.

Featuring music and lyrics by David Nehls and a book by comedy writer and performer Betty Kelso, when the audience is introduced to the residents of Armadillo Acres trailer park, three beer-drinking ladies are sunning themselves. In the energetic opening number, they proclaim they're on "This Side of the Tracks," as opposed to the wrong (or right) side of the tracks in front of incredible suggestions of trailers. Bravo to the set designer and master carpenter Todd Everest and scenic artists, Vitale Brothers.

In costumes coordinated by Pat Werner that suggested trailer living but thankfully didn't go over the top, the trio dispensed narration and commentary to move the show forward in time, often breaking the fourth wall, and speaking directly to the audience - which that night's full house loved.

THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL is expertly directed by Matthew Belopavlovich and Steven Jones, also the choreographer. Matty Colonna, who also plays Duke, is the music director. This show is a triple win for the three men.

We follow Lin (Laura Titus), named after her linoleum floor birthplace, whose husband is on death row trying to get an appeal. We meet Pickles (Lindsay Nantz), self-admittedly "dumber than a box of hair" whose prone to hysterical pregnancy, and Betty (Millicent Hunnicutt), the trailer manager widow whose husband left her the keys.

We're introduced to Norbert (Matthew Frusher) and Jeannie (Bridgette Karl), a toll booth operator and his wife slowly drifting apart since a bad perm and their infant son, Elvis's kidnapping causing her agoraphobia. It is a few weeks away from their 20th anniversary and she is determined to get outside the trailer park to celebrate.

Their lives are disrupted when Hurricane Pippi (Elizabeth Koepp), a beautiful brunette, a stripper in black fishnets and stilettos, hiding out from a jealous gun-wielding, marker-sniffing, bacon-bit-loving, anti-vegetarian boyfriend, Duke blows into town, making Armadillo Acres and Norbert her own.

Performed by an amazing talented cast of regulars and newcomers that truly brought their characters vividly to life, the vocal power of this ensemble is outstanding. Whether a solo or part a group, the songs are witty and the entertaining score ranges from rockabilly to country to pop.

Despite beautiful costumes, the only issue I had in the entire performance came directly from the directors following succinct instructions in the script - a 70s-styled sequence to close out the first act. Though it was fun and choreographed by Jones to perfection like the rest of the show, it seemed disconnected and could have easily been performed in the characters' original garb. I'd be interested to ask the playwrights Jean Doumanian, Jeffrey Richards, and Rick Steiner what was their reasoning behind the costume and decade flashback.

Without giving anything away, when Duke (Matty Colonna) enters in a car, the Pete Clapsis' prop was ingenious. One cannot mention Duke without talking about his hilarious facial expressions and especially, a shocked expression that caused Jeannie and Duke to wait patiently for the audience to stop laughing.

And it is Jeannie's role that added a dash of heart to all the silliness. She mesmerized the audience with her performance of "Flushed Down the Pipes."

When the show ended with the cast's favorite, a transcendent number driven by Pippi's brave and plaintive call to make like a nail and press on, there's no surprise that it is greeted by a standing ovation.

Matinee and evening shows run through May 21 at the theater, 16128 U.S. 19, Hudson. Ticket prices: buffet dinner and show, $49.50 plus tax. Show only: $38.45 plus tax. For tickets or information, call (727) 863-7949 or go to

RELATED STORIES - Tampa/St. Petersburg

Previews: WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT at American Stage (in Multiple Locations) Photo
Previews: WHITE RABBIT RED RABBIT at American Stage (in Multiple Locations)

Imagine the thrill of witnessing an actor stepping onto the stage with a script they are performing for the first time on stage, a character they've never met, and a story they've never heard. The result is a rollercoaster of emotions, from the emotionally vulnerable moments to the uproarious laughter that can erupt at any time.

Previews: ROMEO AND JULIET at Progressive Arts Theatre Photo
Previews: ROMEO AND JULIET at Progressive Arts Theatre

Kirsten Stiff Walker states, 'This story has so many ways to make commentary on society, using a little off-the-wall ideas. I feel our production hits on key issues in our world today. I hope my vision and the ideas of my co-director, Lil Barcaski, are clearly understood. As directors, I feel we have a responsibility to share art, share beauty, share love, and pain while also showcasing the words, the work, and the magic in the meanings with any production we touch, and we do with this one for sure.'

The Off-Central Players Present The World Premiere Of GHOST STORIES FROM YELLOWSTONE Photo
The Off-Central Players Present The World Premiere Of GHOST STORIES FROM YELLOWSTONE

The Off-Central Players and Bill Leavengood present the world premiere of 'Ghost Stories From Yellowstone,' a family drama filled with humor and personal demons. Opening on October 5th, the play explores healing and understanding after poor decisions. Don't miss this compelling production!

HCC Theatre Department To Presents MAKE EM LAUGH By Jason Odell Williams Photo
HCC Theatre Department To Presents MAKE EM LAUGH By Jason Odell Williams

Make Em Laugh: A fresh comedy by Jason Odell Williams that explores finding passion and escaping the TV. Catch it November 1st-4th at HCC Theatre Department. Tickets available at

From This Author - Deborah Bostock-Kelley

A twice-published author, multi-time award-winning playwright, magazine writer, theatre reviewer, and newspaper journalist with 30+ years in journalism and business copywriting, Deb was a 2022 Recipie... Deborah Bostock-Kelley">(read more about this author)


#repshow# in[i]# Rosencrantz And Guildenstern Are Dead
Jobsite Theater (9/13-10/08)Tracker
#repshow# in[i]# The Crucible by Arthur Miller
Stageworks Theatre (9/29-10/15)Tracker PHOTOS
#repshow# in[i]# Suncoast Jazz Festival 2023
Shearaton Sand Key (11/17-11/19)
#repshow# in[i]# Clue
Straz Center [Carol Morsani Hall] (5/28-6/02)
#repshow# in[i]# The Figs
American Stage Theatre Company (7/10-8/04)
#repshow# in[i]# The Rocky Horror Show
Jobsite Theater (7/10-8/04)
#repshow# in[i]# Indecent
American Stage Theatre Company (10/04-10/29)
#repshow# in[i]# Twelfth Night
Jobsite Theater (1/17-2/11)
#repshow# in[i]# Pictures From Home
Florida Studio Theatre (12/13-2/18)
#repshow# in[i]# Moulin Rouge!
Straz Center [Carol Morsani Hall] (2/07-2/18)

Recommended For You