Trailer Park’s a Trashy Treasure
Reviewed by Marianne Regan
Extended through Dec. 11, the San Diego Repertory Theater’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” delivers a laugh-out-loud romp through middle earth — in the guise of Armadillo Acres, located somewhere off Highway 31 in the great state of Florida. The three bleached blonde residents, Betty (Melinda Gilb), Lino (Leigh Scarritt) and Pickles (Kailey O’Donnell), act as a “Greek Chorus” narrating and underscoring the tragedy that is behind the story of Norbert and Jeannie (David Kirk Grant and Courtney Corey). Big hair, big costumes and big laughs ensue. The only thing small about the performance is the size of the trailers. Where are the double-wides that we know are part and parcel of any trailer park?
The story line is thin, but the production is blessed with thick voices. Betty leads the blonde chicks as we follow along and learn about the residents of the park, both permanent and transient. The most recent, Pippi (Jill Van Velzer), an “exotic dancer” with a heart of gold, steals the affections of Norbert, the seemingly single male resident and husband of Jeannie. Jeannie, who suffers from agoraphobia, not arachnophobia or, according to Pickles, “she’s a scared of going outside WITH spiders!” Trouble brews and the girls sing all sorts of “she stole my man” kind of songs. An especially tender ballad, “Owner of My Heart,” brings out the “awww” factor between high school sweethearts Jeannie and Norbert.
There are some unintentionally queasy moments as when the menacing delinquent Duke (David McBean) starts leering at the woman who is discovered to be his mother, while Norbert is having an affair with someone who is (supposedly) young enough to be his daughter. And Pickles is having either an hysterical pregnancy —or is hysterically pregnant. But hey, who wouldn’t be queasy after snorting spray cheese?
The lyrics are exceptionally witty, but hard to hear, as they gallop by so fast. The songs are all peppy and upbeat or cowboy blues with one Las Vegas production number thrown in for good measure. Choreographer Javier Velasco continues to deliver with constant movement and special flourishes like the toilet brushes wielded in “Flushed Down the Pipes.”
“Trailer Park” is extended through Dec. 11at the Rep’s Lyceum Theater. The show runs 90 minutes with no intermission. But your stay at “Armadillo Acres” is so enjoyable, that the not-so-surprise ending is eclipsed by the ending of the show. You just want to draw up your lawn chair in the empty swimming pool and stay a tad longer.
San Diego Repertory Theater Lyceum Theater, 79 Horton Plaza, San Diego. (619) 544-1000. sdrep.org.
Marianne Regan is a member of Actor’s Equity and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA). She began a career in theater in 1976 at the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pa., and moved to San Diego in 1985 and performed at the North Coast Repertory Theater and for Edyth Pirazzini’s Mission Playhouse.