THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL – Book by Betsy Kelso; Music and Lyrics by David Nehls; Directed by Ann Evans Watson. Produced by Thingamajig Theatre Company (2313 Eagle Drive, Pagosa Springs) through August 25. Tickets available at 970-731-7469 or email@example.com.
In the interest of transparency, I need to say that this little theatre holds a special place in my heart. I’ve spent a summer and a half working here and enjoyed every moment. But it’s been four years since I’ve been back, and a few things have changed. One thing that hasn’t changed – thank goodness – is the people at the top of the heap – Tim and Laura Moore. Under their guidance, the excellent program they have in place involving theatre camps, children’s theatre and outstanding year-round entertainment for everyone has thrived. A lovely new gift shop and bar adorns a permanent corner of the spacious lobby. And Tim is at the door to greet people as they arrive.
It is a familiar place to many of the cast and crew who return each summer if they can to perform with the company. Only six out of the company of fourteen actors are new to their summer employment in Pagosa. The crew – builders, costumers, painters, musicians, and all the other artisans who work to get a show on its feet – are also returnees. And why not!? The opportunity to spend a summer in Pagosa where the breezes are cooler, the people are friendly, the food is great, and you have the hot springs!
But the thing that brings the audiences of locals and tourists back year after year are the shows. In rep this summer, we have GODSPELL, JERSEY BOYS, and this raunchy and ridiculous TRAILER PARK MUSICAL. Could there be three more different shows? I don’t think so. This one put nine of the actors into white trash clothes, parks them in front of the Armadillo Arms Trailer Park in Stark, Florida, and lets them tell the audience their stories.
Betty (Samantha Luck) inherited this piece of God’s green earth and works hard(ly) at keeping it pristine. Pickles (a baby-faced Nadia Belaouchi) is a wife staying close to the local prison, the habitat of her current husband, while she awaits the birth of her (hysterical) baby. Rough and ready Lin (Rosa Julia Campbell) is the third member of this Ozark Greek chorus who work hard(ly) at keeping the audience informed. The last two residents we meet are Jeannie and Nobert Gorstecki (Allie Tamburello and Zac Mitchell), an agoraphobic wife and a getting-tired-of-it-all husband. He has bought these fancy tickets to the Ice Capades as a special treat for their anniversary and she can’t leave the house so she can go with him. Her efforts to get to the bottom of the steps with a swim float, sheets tied together as a tether, and a Titanic life jacket are hysterical.
Pippi (Ashley Woodson) is an exotic dancer on the run from her magic marker sniffing boyfriend. Let’s just say she seems to have the answer for Nobert’s frustrations. At least until said boyfriend Duke (Trevor Brown) shows up. Big twist at the end brings everything to a satisfactory conclusion but not before you have a ripping good time “This Side of the Tracks.”
There are so many good one-liners and funny lyrics in this show, you can tell that Ms. Kelso and Mr. Nehls must have had a blast writing this. We need a cast album! It reads like a complicated script but it’s easy to just lean back and enjoy the silliness. One of my favorites: Pickles bemoans the fact that her efforts to keep her husband away from the electric chair had failed – “There used to be a time when sexual favors meant something to a governor!” There’s a number called “Flushed Down the Pipes” in which the singers announce that “My marriage is in the hands of the Tidy Bowl Man.” The final song for Act I is “Storm’s A-Brewing” with the whole cast dressed in Supreme-like costumes. In one song, the girls lament that they must “make like a nail and press on.”
Clever sight and sound gags abound. A kid’s plastic wading pool is drug on and off stage with regularity. But every time someone steps or falls into it, there’s a loud splash – despite the absence of water. Duke’s appearance is performed on a “motorcycle” that is actually a rolling office chair and a steering wheel. Duke’s formidable pistol named Big Bertha is only a squirt gun. Beware all those sitting in the front row. He’s not a very good shotl Or maybe he is?
As it says on the bathroom wall at the Litter Box Show Palace where Pippi dances, “For a good time, call the number above.”
A WOW factor of 8.5!