Arts & Culture

Review: ‘Great American Trailer Park Musical’ offers double-wide fun

“Great American Trailer Park Musical” continues this weekend at The Shed in Port Royal.
“Great American Trailer Park Musical” continues this weekend at The Shed in Port Royal. Submitted

The flock of flamingos, all pink and plastic and positioned artfully at the entrance to The Shed in Port Royal last Friday night, welcomed theatergoers and set the stage for the opening night performance of “Great American Trailer Park Musical.”

The “pat” (the scientific name for a group of flamingos) was the beginning of an evening of a superb series of snarky to sentimental stereotypes, an over-the-top ridiculously rollicking plot line, and artfully positioned un-politically correct issues served up tastefully during the fun-filled evening as the outstanding cast presented this popular musical comedy.

First produced in the early 2000s, “Great American Trailer Park Musical” had an impressive opening and run in New York and an enormously successful national tour. The comedy, benefiting from a nod to current sensitivities, gently brushes against X-rated activities and outcomes and totally teases out gentle giggles and then full-scale laughter through the course of its action-packed two acts.

The 2015 production of the “Trailer Park” was so popularly received throughout the Lowcountry and due to the encouragement from the Coastal Stage Productions sponsors and appreciators, co-directors Luke Cleveland and Mark Erickson decided to reprise the popular piece in this season.

The cast was spot-on, with several of the earlier actors renewing their highly praised roles for this production, and the important addition of three new, talented performers. They sing, and they move, and they even dance, but above it all, they are very, very funny.

The songs in the show, all quite amazing, run from knockout beautiful and full of emotion to over-the-top ridiculous, even head-scratching and bizarre.

Things get off to an energetic start and a perfect opener with “This Side of the Tracks.” Through the course of the show, you’ll be particularly taken with “It Doesn’t Take a Genius,” “The Great American TV Show,” “Owner of My Heart,” and “That’s Why I Love My Man.”

Armadillo Acres, set in North Florida, is NOT a mobile home location at water’s edge with views to the Atlantic and named for a celebrity such as Lawrence Welk. Our Armadillo Acres is a trailer park in every sense of the word – right down to the slabs with aluminum folding chairs, nail-on butterflies, plastic flowers, year-round outside Christmas lights, garden hoses, flamingos, oh, and TV dishes.

Betty (Kelley Ard), a widow and the trailer park manager, takes the lead and continues balancing the characters at Armadillo Acres as she steps up to the many layered role – actor, singer, dancer – and delivers a top-notch performance.

The remaining residents at Armadillo, bless their collective hearts, are all dealing with major, completely unusual challenges, which kept all of us in the audience completely involved and prepared in some way toward the perfect resolution of everyone’s issues and, clearly, the perfect outcome of the show.

There’s Linoleum (Donna Capp), whose husband is on death row; Pickles (Christa Fortney), a 17-year-old bride who is experiencing a hysterical pregnancy and all of its trimmings; and Jeanie (Connie Hoskins), who suffers from agoraphobia. She has not left her trailer home in 20 years, just the day after her infant son was kidnapped. Her patient, baffled and ultimately cheating husband, Norbert (Henry Drierer), is a sensitive toll collector, and he, in spite of everything, so wants Jeanie to celebrate their wedding anniversary by leaving the trailer and joining him at the Ice Capades!

The newest tenant at Armadillo Acres is Pippa (Candice Skingley). She is an “exotic dancer.” She is gorgeous, appealing and is trying desperately to avoid her distracted (nutcase) ex-boyfriend.

Norbert, the patient, loving husband of Jeanie, sadly falls victim to Pippa’s charms and spends long, secret afternoons in Pippa’s double-wide home – not collecting tolls.

Then there is Duke (Mark Erickson). Though he appears kind of late in the show, he has critical impact to the storyline. The permanent-marker sniffing, gun carrying, several-bricks-short-of-a-load guy is Pippa’s ex-boyfriend.

As the “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” unfolds and we are more and more involved in the nature of the situations being faced by everyone, we learn that there is a serious storm approaching, and everyone at Armadillo Acres must evacuate and seek safety at a local motel!

Avoiding “spoilership,” I will not offer a closeup look at what happens next – just let me tell you that there are surprises at every level, and I’m betting you’ll be charmed and pleased.

Artist, musician, teacher and writer Nancy K. Wellard focuses on portraying and promoting the cultural arts, first in Los Angeles and, for close to 30 years, in the Lowcountry. Email her at nancykwellard@gmail.com.

If you go

  • What: “Great American Trailer Park Musical”
  • When: 8 p.m. Nov. 10-11; 2 p.m. Nov. 12
  • Where: The Shed, 809 N. Paris Ave., Port Royal
  • Note: Show is rated PG-13 for adult language and adult situations
  • Tickets: $22; trailerparkportroyal.brownpapertickets.com
  • Upcoming shows: “Southern Hospitality,” Feb. 9-11, 16-18; “Della’s Diner,” May 25-27, June 1-3
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