review by Janet I. Martineau
This here musical that opened Friday night at Pit and Balcony Community Theatre, well, it’s ain’t your “Sound of Music” kind of show. Even thought it’s about family...more precisely kin.
Nope. It’s about road kill, a malfunctioning electric chair, adultery, a stripper, a fake pregnancy, agoraphobia and Walmart -- all set in a trashy trailer park in Florida.
We’d call its cast of characters redneck white trash. But, ya know, they kinda grow on you.
It’s titled “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” and it is irreverent, quirky, kinda profane, NOT politically correct ...and way loads of fun as directed by James Gaertner.
It’s cast of seven stays in glorious seedy character (just barely on the safe side and not caricature) and high energy throughout. The ever-changing costuming is clever and appropriately cheesy as is the trailer park set. Brian Farnham’s choreography moves things along very well and also is clever, particularly in “Flushed Down the Pipes” and “The Great American TV Show.”
Just add on that wacky script and score, by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso, and whatta ride. One sample of the lyrics: “Like clothes from Walmart, my life is falling apart.” And the musical styles include blues, gospel, country rock, rhythm and blues.
If there is one criticism, and we might as well address it now, it is DICTION. Since this is a show that is primarily sung rather than spoken, and the real humor lies in its lyrics, making sure every word is crystal clear is paramount.
Jessica McFarland as the timid housewife afraid to leave her trailer and Christy Horn as the brassy stripper understand that and deliver. But the rest of the cast needs work slowing down just a bit and enunciating more clearly -- particularly the lawn-chair sitting Jessica Booth-Asiala, Lucy Malacos and Brooke Pieschke, a Greek chorus providing commentary and playing assorted mini-roles. Each of them has moments of great clarity, but then are given to mush.
Speaking of McFarland and Horn, they are the brightest lights in the show with the best of the singing voices and playing two diverse characters that break our heart.
Horn’s pole dance shows early on she has locked into her character totally while with McFarland we watch with tender concern as her sadsack character inch by inch leaves the trailer.
And when they duet on “But He’s Mine” they deliver goosebumps for their emotions, vocal prowess and ability to nail a song in unison.
Then Horn returns to sing -- make that spit out with seething raw emotion -- about getting on with her life and the goosebumps fester.
So give this show a try. It ain’t intellectual and profound and big ticket like the big-name musicals. But it sure is fun.