So it’s not London (“My Fair Lady”) or Scotland (“Brigadoon”) or Siam (“The King and I”), but the familiar location of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” which opened Friday evening at the Bristol Opera House, proves that you don’t have to leave the good old USofA to have a fun time.
The Elkhart Civic Theater production of this look at life in north Florida’s Armadillo Acres Trailer Park is strictly for laughs. The book by Betsy Kelso and the music and lyrics by David Nehls constantly invite the audience to do just that.
And laugh they do.
The same goes for the cast!
As neighbors Betty (Adrienne Nesbitt), a not-so-grieving widow; Pickles (Michelle Miller), an expectant mother; and Lin (Kristen Abbey), waiting hopefully near her hubby who has been on death row for eight years, announce immediately, they are happy sunning themselves on “This Side of the Tracks.”
An object of their concern, however, is neighbor Jeannie (Christina Herrick), hoping to celebrate her upcoming anniversary with hubby Norbert (Zach Rivers) by stepping outside her trailer (“One Step Closer”), something that has not happened since her baby was kidnapped decades ago.
His wife’s agoraphobia frustrates Norbert who decides to celebrate on his own at the local strip club, The Litter Box. Unfortunately, he forms an immediate attachment to its new attraction, Pippi (Christa Jones), who — even more unfortunately — also is the newest resident of Armadillo Acres, hiding out from Duke (Mike Honderich), her biker boyfriend (“Road Kill”).
Complications grow as Jeannie, armed (literally) with water wings, finally ventures outside, Pickles delivers her baby and a storm-induced short circuit sends Lin’s reunion hopes up in smoke.
No surprise, however, that all is well before the final Florida sunset.
The score of “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is not filled with memorable melodies but most are listenable, up-tempo, to the point and delivered with contagious enthusiasm. Especially those from The Girls, who have most of the musical assignments. They blend well in their many trios and, as do all the soloists, have solid voices, making the unfamiliar score very easy listening..
Since characters and plotlines frequently are revealed in lyrics, however, group and solo numbers could benefit from more distinct diction and a little less volume from the excellent small orchestra led by director/keyboardist Liesl Bell.
The setting, designed by Mike Greene, Kevin Egelsky and John Shoup, features at least partial exteriors of three trailers (aka mobile homes), all of which are theatrically accurate. One opens to reveal the interior living room and another, to become The Litter Box stage.
Randy Zonker’s spot-on lighting design segued from sunny and hot to moonlit and steamy to stormy and flashing as required by the action. Have seen many lightening storms on stage at the BOH, but none with the impact of this Florida blast, aided by Gary Cobbum’s sound design.
The costumes, coordinated and created as required by Linda Weisinger, are as trashy as needed by the determindly trashy ladies.
The date is 2003, but dance movements by choreographer Val Ong are mostly reminiscent of the days of disco!
The just-for-fun action is directed by Penny Shoup, assisted by Annette Kaczanowski, and everything invites the audience to party with the residents of Armadillo Acres.
But I didn’t see a pink flamingo anywhere!
NOTE: Some of the language is R-rated but all in the spirit of fun. However, best leave the youngsters home.
“THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL” plays through March 11 in the Bristol Opera House. Shows at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sunday. For reservations, call 848-4116 between 1 and 5:30 p.m.