Review: “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” at the Theater Barn [Berkshire on Stage]
By Gail Burns and Roseann Cane. For the Berkshire-Capital region’s most comprehensive listing of theatre offerings visit GailSez.org
Gail Burns: If there’s a show with a title that makes you say “What the..??” – whether it’s a Broadway hit like “Urinetown” or “The Drowsy Chaperone,” or something you’ve never heard of before like “Zombie Prom” or “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” – and it’s being directed by Bert Bernardi at The Theater Barn, this is a show you want to see. You need to call the box office ASAP and say “I want to see THAT show.” Because it is bound to be great fun.
Roseann Cane: I’d forgotten how pleasant it can be just to have a night of silly fun at the theater. I really knew nothing about “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” and, truth be told, I’d braced myself for an underwhelming evening. But when we entered The Theater Barn, and I drank in Abe Phelps’s nicely crafted set—the hindquarters of two trailers framing a trio of beach chairs and an assortment of de rigueur lawn accents, including a pink flamingo and a garden gnome—I felt a spark of hope.
Gail: The show is set in Armadillo Acres, a trailer park in Starke, Florida, a small town about midway between Gainesville and Jacksonville in the northern part of the state. No beach resorts here. And the electricity goes out with every storm. We’re talking Georgia’s Dukes of Hazzard much more than Florida’s Golden Girls.
The southern setting makes the “trailer park” issue slightly more palatable to a local audience, and Betsy Kelso’s book and David Nehls’s lyrics manage to deftly walk that razor’s edge between broad caricature and lovably flawed humanity. There are cliches and stereotypes of the kind of people who live in manufactured housing communities, and some of them apply some of the time. But the bottom line is that trailers/mobile homes are America’s affordable housing and the people who live in them are home owners and active citizens in the towns where they live, work, vote, and pay their taxes.