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'Trailer Park' trash never looked so good

By Joanne Greco Rochman, Republic American


There's absolutely nothing politically correct about "The Great American Trailer Park Musical." That's one reason the audience can sit back and laugh out loud at the outrageous stereo-typing going on in Betsy Kelso's and David Nehls' "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" at TheatreWorks, New Milford.

It's all out, unadulterated, strictly adult, categorical fun with a nod to "agoraphobia, adultery, spray cheese, road kill, hysterical pregnancy, kleptomania, flan and disco. Three women swear (and do they ever) that they are not on the right or the wrong side of the tracks. They sing out about being on "This Side of the Tracks" and that's all there is to it. Betty, Lin, and Pickles are three weird characters, but fine vocalists who keep the audience abreast of what happened, what's going on and what's coming up. They are the most unlikely of Greek choruses, but oh the pipes on these gals.

It all starts with Betty, who inherited Armadillo Acres from her late husband who died tragically by a flying frying pan and was buried out back. Betty manages the Florida-based, flamingo-crazed trailer park. Her friend Lin, who got her name because she was born on a lin-oleum floor, is well read on the joys of conjugal visits since her husband has been on death row. Pickles, an adorable but extraordinarily dumb blonde, is fat with her imaginary baby. The trio is just the tip of the trailer park crazies. Jeannie, an agoraphobic since her infant son was kidnapped, and Norbert, her adoring-but-cheating husband, are celebrating the anniversary of their shotgun wedding.

Pippi, a stripper running away from her magic-marker-sniffing-insanely jealous boyfriend Duke (named after a dog), gets things rolling. Duke is on the trail of Pippi and when he finds her all hell breaks out. Even if you think you've seen and heard it all, you'll be stunned by some of the language and goings on in this show. It makes Jerry Springer's shows look tame.

Elyse Jasensky is the big voice in the show as Betty. She’s got a Broadway belt that doesn’t quite. Beth Harvison as Lin is non-stop entertainment and Abby Niessenbaum as Pickles is simply excellent. Tracey Hurd as Jeannie grows from fading violet into full bloom passionate purple petunia, and Michael Wright as Norbert manages to remain likeable. Deanna Chorman, as Pippi the stripper, never plays second fiddle to anyone in the cast. Justin Boudreau as Duke might have stolen the show if the rest of the cast, including Robyn Maitland and Ryan Reynolds had not been at the top of their form.

Just as this exceptional non-Equity cast (some of the women are actually teachers in real life) is, so too are the creative team and technical crew. Leave it to director/designer Glenn R. Couture to set the scene before you even enter the theater. Pink flamingos line the entrance path and once the curtain rises, the most ingenious set literally unfolds before your eyes. Dan Ringuette is the music director.

Both the band (In Fidelity) and talent on stage bear his finely “noted” signature. Robin Frome is assistant director and Regina Sweeney is choreographer.  Renee Purdy’s costumes not only emphasize these motley characters, but help define them.  Wait until you get a look at Lin’s barely there costume and Pippi’s flashy revealing outfits. En V Hair Lounge, Lisa Toigo and Brain Fagan provide wigs that make Broadway’s “Hairspray” wigs look limp.

The lighting designed by Richard Pettibone and Scott Wyshynski and the sound design by Thomas Libonate crown this most unlike jewel.

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