For the fourth show of their 25th Anniversary Season, Peninsula Community Theatre presents The Great American Trailer Park Musical. If you are easily offended by comedians like Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy this is not the show for you. The cast and crew put together a very fun and entertaining evening of theatre.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical has Music & Lyrics by David Nehls with a Book by Betsy Kelso. The musical originally opened in 2004 at the New York Music Theater Festival and then opened Off-Broadway on September 22, 2005 and closed on December 4, 2005. The show is set in Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in Stark, Florida which is the home of several tenants whose lives get turned upside down when stripper Pippi blows into town running from her past. If this gives you any indication of the kind of ride you are in for, you have no idea. There is a chorus of three tenants who help progress the action of the show and always keep a close eye and ear to everything that is going on. There is also the agoraphobic Jeannie whose toll taker husband Norbert wants her to leave their home to celebrate their 20th Anniversary with tickets to the Ice Capades. From here the action of the play hilariously progresses into some extremely crazy circumstances for every character that hits on every stereotype that can be thought of about people who live in trailer parks.
Peninsula Community Theatre’s production is wonderfully directed by Jeffrey Corriveau. Mr. Corriveau; who also designed the set, expertly works with the actors to create distinct characters for each performer. Mr. Corriveau’s staging works for the unique space at PCT and provides ample space for all the locations needed to illustrate the action of the musical. Mr. Corriveau has crafted a show with comedic elements that help a very simple script shine. His years of experience and expertise as a director shine with this production.
Two of the most shining technical elements within this production are the costumes designed by Alex Swanenburg and the props designed by Jym Newton. When you put a woman tanning at the beginning of the show in a t-shirt of a bikini clad body you have created the perfectly stereotypical world of a trailer park. Then you have a character that puts on floaties to encourage her to leave her own house, that is pure comedic gold. They took the hilarity that Mr. Corriveau crafted and helped elevate it to the next level. Bravo to both of these designers.
The cast consists of seven actors playing the zany cast of characters within this production. All the performers are admirable within their roles; however, there are two standouts that truly take this production to the next level. Lisa LaBlanc’s “Betty” seems to be the manager of the trailer park and the lead of the three chorus ladies. Her comedic timing never seems to miss a beat and she even seems to encourage the audience that it is okay to laugh and enjoy the craziness that goes on. She effortlessly moves from bit to bit and is truly enjoying herself on stage which allows the audience members to enjoy themselves as well. The other stand out is Charity Robinson as “Pippi”, the new in town stripper who is looking for a place to live while she works at the local strip club. Mrs. Robinson creates a character that you want to hate but you truly love because she does not mean to do anything wrong in the grand scheme of things. She has a strong and entertaining character but the gem that is truly offered by Mrs. Robinson is the beauty of her vocals. Her voice is by far the strongest of the entire cast and helps take everyone else to the next level.
The music direction and choreography seemed to be the weakest pieces of the production. The little bit of choreography there was seemed to be unpolished. The actors seemed unsure of what they were supposed to be doing and where looking at each other to make sure they were in the right place at the right time. Yes, this does happen during other productions, but when you have a dance with three people and two of them are looking unsure it seems very obvious that something is off. The same uncertainty was very prevalent with the music. At times, it did not seem like the actors were aware of what key they should or should not be singing in and some seemed to be singing way out of their range. It felt like they were never truly taught what they should be singing. At times, these elements almost took away from the overall production. However, for the music, the saving grace was the use of a live band on the PCT stage. Normally, the music is pumped throughout the house with a music supported software. This decision is normally appropriate for the size of PCT’s stage based on the size of the show. The live band was a nice addition that added something special to this production.
Overall, Mr. Corriveau’s direction and the characters that he created with his cast take a very simple and basic script and provide a hilarious and enjoyable evening of theatre. Be prepared to laugh at things that you may not normally laugh at and enjoy the crazy cast of characters that inhabit the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical runs through March 10th and Peninsula Community Theatre. Get your tickets here.