This sounds like fun: “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” What is it, a chance to make fun of the rednecks, yahoos, crackers and other toothless wonders who stereotypically inhabit trailer parks?
No. The show’s not mean-spirited, but it’s not much of a show, either.
Presented by Oklahoma City Repertory Theatre, in conjunction with the University of Central Oklahoma’s Department of Opera and Music Theatre, “Trailer Park” opened last week at UCO and transfers this week to the Civic Center Music Hall. It’s a loud, garish airhead of a musical that’s mildly crude without being edgy.
The show involves the denizens of Armadillo Acres, a Florida trailer park boasting a flowerpot made from a toilet and Christmas lights strung overhead, where a big night out is a trip to the Ice Capades.
Christopher Domanski’s set design is appropriately cartoonish, aided by Art Whaley’s lighting design and Aaron Patrick Turner’s disturbingly authentic costumes. This is a wig-intensive show, and Suzette Collins Sroufe’s fine artificial hairdos run the gamut from beehive to mullet to Goth.
Into this paradise comes Pippi (Ally Ridley), a stripper from Oklahoma City on the run from her marker-sniffing boyfriend. She meets Norbert (Jim Johnson), a tollbooth collector, and let’s just say that complications ensue.
It’s mildly crude without being edgy.
Serving as sort of a Greek chorus are Betty (Barb Schoenhofer, who, bewigged, bears a startling resemblance to “Saturday Night Live”’s Kristen Wiig), Lin (Kassie Carroll) and Pickles (Kelli Cormack), so-called because she suffers “hysterical pregnancy.” This distaff trio spends a lot of time digressing about Florida and trailerpark culture, or the lack thereof. They play various characters, including three rubes whose haircuts say “business in the front, party in the back.” These diversions are superfluous filler added to compensate for a lack of plot.
What this production has going for it is the excellent Renee Anderson as Norbert’s wife, Jeannie. A wonderful singer and fine actor, Anderson, a knockout earlier this year in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” is one of our most reliable and solid theater artists.
She gives the production what little substance it has. Her big number is a song titled “Panic,” in a scene when an agoraphobe accidentally gets locked out of her trailer. Anderson’s performance makes Jeannie a sympathetic, if flawed, character, and a hoot, as well.
“Trailer Park” has some genuinely funny lines, but none better than a two-word response from a Sally Jessy Raphael-like character when Norbert says, “Lately, I’ve had a lot of stuff goin’ through my head.” It wouldn’t make any sense out of context, but it’s a good one.
Steven Smeltzer, of the UCO faculty, directs and choreographs the production; he also directed the work’s first national tour.