Trailer Park Musical

by Michael Martin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Tuesday January 19, 2010

Christopher A. Kent, Margot Moreland, Stephen G. Anthony and Kelly Atkins tangle in a trailer park in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Actors’ Playhouse.
Christopher A. Kent, Margot Moreland, Stephen G. Anthony and Kelly Atkins tangle in a trailer park in The Great American Trailer Park Musical at Actors’ Playhouse.   (Source:Alberto Romeu)

Expounding on a sense of diversity, the Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables plays host to a limited run of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, a show that once played off-Broadway in 2005, and then later toured nationally in 2008.

Though plenty of people reside in mobile homes across America, the term "trailer park" has often been versed to imply a sense of "red-neck" style living, replete with a poorly educated community.

While the opposite may in fact be true, Betsy Kelso (book) and David Nehls (music and lyrics) focus on the latter, taking satirical aim at seven fictional characters from Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in Starke, Florida.

Jeannie Garstecki (Margot Moreland) and Norbert Garstecki (Stephen G. Anthony) experience a bump in their marriage when stripper Pippi (Kelly Atkins) moves into a neighboring trailer and sways Norbert into infidelity.

Jeannie, an agoraphobic who sets a goal of finally leaving the confines of her own trailer by her upcoming twentieth wedding anniversary, discovers Norbert's infidelity one day as she practices distancing herself from her home and notices the lip locked couple tucked behind Pippi's trailer.

To make matters worse, Pippi's jealous former beau, Duke (Christopher A. Kent) tracks his ex-girlfriend to Armadillo Acres and waives a pistol, threatening harm to all the Park's residents during his tirade.

Much like the Urchins from the musical, Little Shop of Horrors, a threesome of girls (Meghan Colleen Moroney, Stacy Schwartz, and Gwen Hollander) portray different characters and narrate through song during the show, as a means of furthering the story along.

Unfortunately, unlike Little Shop of Horrors, this particular musical plays more like a one-joke comedy sketch that might better befit a seven minute segment of a show like Saturday Night Live. The book takes no unforeseen turns, and the ninety-five minute journey seems mostly predictable.

That having been said, a few identifiable moments exist that spotlight the remarkable talent of the small cast.

Kelly Atkins amazes as she slithers through an exotic pole dance while belting out "The Buck Stops Here", sometimes even hanging upside down while doing so. Atkins proves to be quite the actress too, with a keen understanding of her character as she elicits realism in her every line delivery.

Margot Moreland and Stephen G. Anthony share a special moment in "Owner of My Heart!", and prove why each owns more than one Carbonell Award for best performance.

Musical Director Eric Alsford evokes beautifully tight three-part harmonies from Moroney, Schwartz, and Hollander, and choreographer Chrissi Ardito creates a bit of fun with some plunger props in "Flushed Down the Pipes".

Yet the evening's highlights are usurped by the banal script and often misplaced music, as depicted by the disco-like rendition of "Storm's A-Brewin'".

Director David Arisco maintains a fast pace in an attempt to quickly steer past the monotonous humor. Kelso's book, however, might be too anomalous to truly appeal to anyone outside of the trailer park world.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical continues through February 7 at the Actors' Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre in Coral Gables. For more information, visit the website.

Michael Martin has been an active member of Actors' Equity for over 20 years. As a professional actor, he has toured many parts of the US and the world. Originally from St. Louis, he now resides in Miami.