‘The Great American Trailer Park Musical’ rocks the house silly
The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, based on the book by Betsy Kelso with music and lyrics by David Nehls, opened to a sold-out house at the Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance last Friday. Director Jamie Lawson happily thanked everyone for coming out to see their “trashy spectacle” and said “If you like the show, please tell your friends, and if you don’t, hush!” Lawson reminded everyone of the kick-off capital homecoming campaign to support WSTA’s future move to 650 W. 6th St. and expressed his heartfelt appreciation for any and all donations to help make it happen. Then he asked, “Are y’all ready to get trashy? Buckle up, ‘cause here it comes! Enjoy!”
The show delivered two hours of non-stop fun beginning in the first scene. The audience exploded in laughter as the curtains opened Betty, Linoleum and Pickles drinking beer in their lawn chairs at North Florida’s Armadillo Acres Trailer Park. They reminisced of Christmas past and the dreaded “Armadillo Acres Christmas Curse!” The cast popped, and were as colorful as their costumes and surrounding kitschy decorations – a group effort in the hopes of finally winning the upcoming best “Mobile Home & Gardens Christmas Decorating Competition.”
The cast was as entertaining and professional as any Broadway show could deliver! Beer-buzzed Betty (Michele Groneck), perched upon her matriarchal vinyl and aluminum throne, told the girls how every December, Armadillo Acres’ Christmas decorations could be seen from outer space. Rufus (Gray Smith) is a handyman, neighbor, and lover that could bust some moves like nobody’s business! Except for maybe tattoo-covered Linoleum (Mary Upchurch), aka Lynn, who cracked everyone up when she told us how she got her name. Pickles (Ashley Pearson) was tickled pink about this being her baby’s first Christmas, and she had the audience in stitches as she confessed how she was suffering from new-baby exhaustion. Scrooge was rocked by mean Darlene (Jaye Pierce), who sang about Christmas being for dummies until she accidentally got a shock from Rufus’s handy work and changed her tune to one about this being her favorite time of the year. Jackie (Ken Ashford) owns Stacks Pancake House, where the girls work and where Darlene receives fringe benefits as his girlfriend (although that’s not the word Linoleum used) and matched the girls’ kicks and dances, singing in his powerful voice “naughty or nice; I’ll be your Santa Claus.”
The band, while hidden behind the trailers, projected great sound and upbeat music that accompanied the cast’s amazing voices. P. Blake Moran (keyboard/conductor), Davis Cahill and Daniel Carr (guitar), Randy Mintz and Guy Kelpin (bass) and Erin Lopp (drums/percussion) played a professional score throughout the show.
Two highlights out of many for me were broken-hearted, drunken Rufus singing in his Santa garb, and Pickles dancing on tiptoes in a white tutu as a ghost of Christmas past in Darlene’s dream hallucination. Every actor sang their heart out through 15 musical numbers that shook the rafters with catchy jingles that stay with you. My personal favorite was “It’s Christmas!”
People rushed the stage when Lawson invited them to have their photo taken with the cast (for any donation amount). Call your sitter and expect gracious giftings of four-letter words with The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical.
TERRY RADER is a freelance writer, poet, singer/songwriter, wellness herbalist, flower essences practitioner and owner of Paws n’ Peace o’ Mind cat/dog/housesitting.
Several shows are already sold out as of Dec. 7. Check the website, www.theatrealliance.ws/events/ for available seats. Showtimes are 8 p.m. for Tuesday-Saturday shows and at 2 p.m. on Sunday shows. Tickets are $16 (student/senior) and $18 (general admission).