The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Music and lyrics by David Nehls. Book by Betsy Kelso. Dir. Kelso. With ensemble cast. Dodger Stages.
Thu Oct 6 2005
Time Out Ratings :<strong>Rating: </strong>0/5
Just as you can't make fondue out of Cheez Whiz and pretzel sticks, it's hard to make a decent musical out of one tacky joke. The Great American Trailer Park Musical is the latest to attempt the feat. It's a bastard offspring of Urinetown and Avenue Q: a comedy sketch with novelty songs posing as a musical. Trailer Park may never have evolved beyond a Fringey goof with a big budget, but it does have an ideal cast, catchy fluff tunes and many shamelessly lowbrow gags.
Three chicken-fried hoochie mamas (Linda Hart, Marya Grandy and Leslie Kritzer) narrate the action, set in a scuzzy Florida mobile-home park. This trashy trio introduces Shuler Hensley's Norbert, a highway toll collector saddled with a TV-addicted, agoraphobic wife, Jeannie (Caitlin Hopkins). Frustrated, Norbert becomes infatuated with the stripper next door, Pippi (pouty pop singer Orfeh), who is herself on the run from a Magic Marker--sniffing ex (Wayne Wilcox). Book writer and director Betsy Kelso throws in a hurricane, dream sequences and a fortuitous family reunion for good measure.
David Nehls's country-rock score is cute and utterly derivative, a Dolly Parton--flavored version of Marc Shaiman's approach in Hairspray. Kelso has a keen ear for comic rhythms, and the cast labors fruitfully for laughs and their twangy notes, but this is exceedingly thin stuff and instantly forgettable. There are many good ingredients in Trailer Park, but together they are as nutritious as a meal of pork rinds and Pabst Blue Ribbon.—David Cote