“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” was not a title that had me expecting much, but it pleasantly surprised me and it wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t just some “white trash” musical.
The production put on by The Opera House Players had the most beautiful and elaborate set I’ve seen on the often black box style Broad Brook Opera House stage to date with a sliding wall on one of the trailers so you could see inside.
But the set wasn’t the only thing that gave the show charming character. The cast was chalk-full of talent. Christine St. Amant Greene plays Betty, the brassy, matronly, all-knowing supervisor for Armadillo Acres – a trailer park community set in Starke, Florida. She is essentially our host and narrator, telling the story with bold humor and powerful vocals with the help of equally talented singers Lyndsay Hart (Pickles) and Kait Rankins (Lin). Rankins was the strongest in her lower range. Hart was adorable and hilarious as the innocent, quirky and slightly ditsy Pickles, who’s experiencing psychosomatic symptoms of pregnancy (until the very end). Her expressions and body language was priceless and laughter-inspiring. The three women are like the Greek chorus of the story as our omniscient narrators, playing various characters in the story.
Christa Douyard had a solid voice and had comedic physicality as Jeannie, the agoraphobic trailer park wife, who is too scared to leave her mobile home for her 20th anniversary with her husband, Norbert (Jeff Clayton), after her baby boy was taken from them by a white-and-black-stripe-wearing kidnapper.
Clayton does a good job of delivering a simple, loving husband who just wants to go out of the trailer park with his wife. We don’t condone him going astray and having an affair with transient exotic dancer, Pippi (Jami Wilson), but we understand.
We are frightened of and then forgiving of Duke (Tomm Knightlee), Pippi’s controlling, rage-filled ex, who casts a storm on Armadillo Acres in a quest to track her down that puts everyone in danger.
The play has a farcical element portraying and defending the community the narrators assume we perceive as “white trash.” Its self-fulfilling moments are sometimes the most humorous. The musical is also self aware of elements of theater and makes jokes about them that pull us out of the story a little bit. The characters break the fourth wall, speaking directly to the audience.
One of the most memorable songs is “Storm’s A-Brewin’,” which has the ladies of Armadillo Acres wearing glittery silver dresses and shiny silver streamer wigs as muses of the storm. The song has an “It’s Raining Men” element to the melody.
So, if you want a laugh, head on over to “this side of the tracks” in Broad Brook to see “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” running two more weekends. Remaining shows are Sept. 16, 17, 23 and 24 at 8 p.m. and Sept. 18 and 25 at 2 p.m. at the Broad Brook Opera House at 107 Main St. Meghan Lynn Allen is the artistic director, Timothy Chavez is the music director and Karen Anne McMahon is the choreographer. Visit the organization’s website for more information on tickets and the production.