Just as Dolly Parton once said it takes a lot of money to look this cheap, it takes a lot of serious talent to pull off musical comedy. And Stages Repertory Theatre's most recent production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical has talent in spades.
Some of the best voices in Houston are assembled, including favorites Carolyn Johnson, Holland Vavra, and Susan Koozin. (I am still waiting for Stages to do a revival of Johnson as Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow—fingers crossed!) Brooke Wilson and Teresa Zimmerman also have formidable pipes, and it is fun to watch the residents of North Florida’s Armadillo Acres deal with agoraphobia, adultery, and alcohol...and those are just the issues beginning with “A.” There is also stripping, hysterical pregnancy, death row, and T-shirts from the ‘80s. In other words, something for everyone.
Directed and choreographed by Mitchell Greco, audiences can look forward to lively singing, dancing, and outrageously funny lines—with no lulls whatsoever. I loved the trashy costumes, especially Lin’s great combination of a tank top and fishnets. Is that classic, or what? And whether it is Betty (Susan Koozin) singing with Lin (Carolyn Johnson) and Pickles (Teresa Zimmerman) about “This Side of The Tracks” or why they love their men or the stormy relationships among the characters, it is all fun and in good fun.
Josh Morrison is perfect as Norbert, who gets off track with a stripper-on-the-run named Pippi (Brooke Wilson), but you like him anyway. People are human in Armadillo Acres, and even though no one there is a “genius,” everyone there is doing their best to figure things out. There are some outrageous plot twists, but how could there not be? Just because a place might be low-rent doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of high drama.
I loved the set, which, on the outside, looks like exaggerated trailers in bright colors. But the inside of the trailer inhabited by agoraphobic Jeannie (Holland Vavra) and her husband, Norbert, was realistic—a nice juxtaposition of the outrageous and the mundane that perfectly encapsulates the extremes of life at Armadillo Acres.
One minute things are simple—like a little de rigeur tanning outside your trailer—and the next some upstart stripper is wrecking your life. Oh well. At least there is something to sing about—and that is my favorite part of this show. The funny and fast-paced plot laced with humor and catchy tunes makes you wish you knew the lyrics so you could sing along.
In a world that seems chronically offended, it was thrilling to see such a strong cast run with such a hilarious script and see the audience enjoy all the satire, jokes, and exaggerations without getting all bent out of shape. The Great American Trailer Park Musical reminds us that you can have a lot of fun at the theater; my friend and I were laughing and smiling the entire time, and when is the last time you saw a show like that? Get thee to a trailer park, and thankfully, you have until July 22 to do so, since this popular show has already been extended.
Thru July 22. Tickets from $25. Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Pkwy. 713-527-0123. More info and tickets at stagestheatre.com.