Music and Lyrics by David Nehls
Book by Betsy Kelso
Directed by John D. Glover
Produced by Kokandy productions
At Theater Wit, Chicago
Crude, one-joke low-life musical long on shouting and screaming and short on craft
In one of those “what were they thinking” moments, I can’t understand why anyone would produce such a weak show as The Great American Trailer Park Musical? After seeing Trailer, I admired the effort and commitment of the cast. They sported a super-twang heard in many of the Deep Southern trailer parks. But the show contained several elements that drastically make the show ring hollow for me. First, the singers, especially the three lead women, sing the country-pop/rock score (music and lyrics by David Nehls) utilizing a thick Southern twang making most of the lyrics totally unintelligible. Not being able to understand most of the lyrics diluted much of the humor and parody. Also, the girls ofter spoke so fast running many words together that, again, much of the humor got lost.
Add the one-note mentality that presents the blue collar trailer park ‘trash’ as a group of stupid, simple-minded losers into a sort of “one-joke” affair that quickly wore out its welcome. The plot involves a noisy group of women narrating the story that finds high school sweethearts, Norbert (Jonathan Hickerson) twenty years later married to an agoraphobic Jeannie (Christina Hall) who find their marriage jeopardized by Jeannie’s condition and Norbert’s affair with the stripper, Pippi ( Bri Schumacher) who recently moved into the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in the Florida. panhandle. Finally, Duke (Alex Grelle). Pippi’s jealous, felt pen-sniffing ex-boyfriend travels from Oklahoma City to renew his relationship with Pippi. Betty (Danni Smith), Lin (Ashley Braxton) and Pickles (Jennifer Wisegarver) sing and dance to establish the setting and lifestyle of the trailer park.
The county-pop-rock score with strong blues elements is most generic and instantly forgettable. With the crude sexy movements and the sophomoric plot, Trailer quickly turns into a screaming hyper affair that morphs into shout singing. The men have weak voices and Hall, Schumacher, and Braxton sport strong vocal acumen. Too bad they had to sing such derivative songs. The show drones on and it contains too many songs for a 90 minute one act musical. Yet, despite all thing corny tunes , the over-the-top acting and all the screaming, Trailer Park has a cuteness and a genuine innocence that some will find intoxicating. I found it a course, raw and boring. So, as unsure as I am as to who is the audience for this show, the producers saw something in Trailer Park that escapes me. See it at your own risk – if crude humor and loud country/rock/ blues music is your in your taste range, maybe you’ll enjoy Trailer Park? The cast sure had energy.
Talk Theatre in Chicago podcast
Date Reviewed: August3, 2012
For more info checkout the Trailer Park page at theatreinchicago.com
At Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, IL, call 773-975-8150, www.kokandyproductions.com, Wednesday through Friday at 8 pm, Saturdays at 2 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2 pm, running time is 90 minutes without intermission, through August 26, 2012