If trailer-trash characters and comedy are your cup of kegnog The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, now playing at North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theater, will tickle your fancy fer sure. It’s racy, zany, a bit outrageous, and all in good spirits. It is an offshoot of The Great American Trailer Park Musical by the same author, Betsy Kelso, with music and lyrics by David Nehls.
NRACT guest director Judy Dove has an ensemble of energetic kooks who have great fun performing this farcical holiday entertainment. It pulls no punches. The humor is broad and obvious, right out of a 1950s burlesque show, including the pancakes with a butter pad in the center as part of the uniforms at Jackie’s Stacks Pancakes eatery.
The rundown old Armadillo Acres mobile-home park is represented by the front doors of two side-by-side trailers, one well into the Christmas Spirit, the other not at all. In fact, the Christmas tree between the two trailers is decorated only on one side. And the door of the trailer on the other side bears a hostile looking “No Trespassing” sign. On the neighbor trailer’s door hangs a wreath made of empty PBR (Pabst Blue Ribbon) cans. For ambience, set designer Tim Wood adds Pink Flamingos, achieving just the right touch of tackiness.
Props, which include a thong, a yard gnome, tinsel, ornaments for the tree, a “safe” axe, and a large old cookie can, among other esoteric items, are under the care of Yum Darling. And costume designer Anne Haigler, with assistant Burgundy Trimmer, accomplishes excellent ordinary hillbilly garb as well as “trailer-parky” ghost’s arrays, grand burlesquey motorcycle leathers, and frilly dance outfits. Oh, and Jackie’s slick business suit.
Musical director Craig Johnson plays the keyboard and leads “The Flo Janglers,” live on stage, giving the performers able and jangley support. Colton Loveless on bass, Tim Wall on drums, David West on guitar round out the quartet.
Melanie Carviou has a great voice, wonderful timing, and a fascinating ability to shift personality on a dime. Therefore, she plays Darlene perfectly. Her energy is contagious to audience and the rest of the cast.
Rufus is played to a tee by Danny Dove, almost urbane in his charm, but never losing the sense of unaccomplished underdog, a cheerful loser. And Bonnie Webster glistens as Linoleum, named for her actual birthplace, who carries ashes from her cremated husband in a locket, close to her … uh, heart.
Betty, who is kind of the leader of “The Girls” of the trailer park, is played by Alex Matsuo, who also doubles twice, as an Angel and as “Skanks,” the motorcyclist. Pickles/Donna, the third member of “The Girls,” is brought to us by Lauren Knott, who is sweet and lovable in the role. And Jon Todd brings a wonderful sleaziness to Jackie, whose ambitions incredibly outweigh his meagre abilities.
At this time of year, there are so many heartwarming and miracle-laden entertainments available, this offbeat laugh riot can be a welcome change.
North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK CHRISTMAS MUSICAL at 8 p.m. Dec. 3, 3 p.m. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. Dec. 9 and 10, 3 p.m. Dec. 11, 8 p.m. Dec. 16 and 17, and 3 p.m. Dec. 18 at 7713-51 Lead Mine Rd., Raleigh, North Carolina 27615, in the Food Lion Shopping Center.
TICKETS: $20 Friday and Saturday and $17 Sunday, except $12 per person on Sunday, Dec. 4th.
Judy Dove (Raleigh, NC director and NRACT office administrator): https://www.facebook.com/judy.dove.71 (Facebook page).
Martha Keravuori is a life-long theater artist — an actress, director, and stage manager — in North Carolina, around the country, and overseas. She has a theater degree from UNC-Greensboro, and has been active in the arts in Raleigh for the past 40 years. Martha is the retired executive director of the North Carolina Theatre Conference. Chuck Galle returned to Raleigh last year after a 17-year absence. He was active in community theater for many years, and directed the troupe of maximum-security inmates at Raleigh’s Central Prison known as the Central Prison Players. In New England, he performed on stage, on TV, and in films. He is the author of Stories I Never Told My Daughter — An Odyssey, which can be ordered on his website: http://www.chuckgalle.com/. Chuck Galle and Martha Keravuori review theater for Boom! Magazine of Cary. Click here to read more of their reviews for Boom! Magazine and here to read more of their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.