Theater appeals to inner redneck
CdA’s Lake City Playhouse gets campy with ‘Great American Trailer Park Musical’
A raucous celebration of pink flamingos, plastic lawn furniture, trashy daytime television, processed food and cheap beer, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is the kind of show that announces its intentions in its lengthy, goofy title. Premiering Friday at Coeur d’Alene’s Lake City Playhouse (it last played regionally in 2008 at the Bing Crosby Theater), it’s a campy comedy that revels in stereotypes, bad taste and double-wide melodrama.
“There’s a little bit of everybody that can relate to something in this show,” said the show’s director, Andy Renfrew. “I’m sure just about every person that watches the show can walk away saying, ‘That is so true,’ even though you don’t want to admit it.”
Set in the Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in Florida, the show features seven proud, self-proclaimed rednecks engaged in various romantic entanglements. At the center of the story are high school sweethearts Norbert and Jeannie, who could have stepped right out of an episode of “Maury”: Their only son was kidnapped from the park some years ago, and Jeannie’s so emotionally damaged that she refuses to leave her trailer.
On the run from her abusive, Sharpie-sniffing boyfriend is an exotic dancer named Pippi, who seeks solace at Armadillo Acres and in Norbert. Three tertiary characters – a trio of women named Pickles, Lin (short for Linoleum, because she was born on the kitchen floor) and Betty – comment on the love triangle as a sort of dime store Greek chorus.
“They each bring something to the show and to their character,” Renfrew said of his cast. “There are so many little things that they keep bringing to make their character bigger and bigger. It’s fun to see that blossom onstage.”
Written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is a good-natured cartoon, a kooky farce that slyly documents a particular American experience. “Just because it’s a trailer trash show doesn’t mean that only those people who have lived in a trailer can understand it,” Renfrew said.
Although the LCP website lists a parental guidance warning (there are a few F-bombs and a relatively tame scene set in a strip club), Renfrew said that it’s not an offensive or particularly off-color show.
“It’s a night of humor,” he said. “I’ve been watching the show since the day we started, and during the last few days of run-throughs with the full orchestra, I can’t stop laughing.”