The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical at NRACT Provokes Nonstop Laughter from Start to Finish


The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical is another winner for North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theater. With music and lyrics by David Nehis and book by Betsy Kelso, The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical provokes nonstop laughter from start to finish.

Where else (and when else) but a trailer park at Christmas could you possibly encounter a barrel of “keg nog?” A wreath made of beer cans? Lawn-flamingos decked out with Santa hats? Or a pair of reindeer-on-the-roof who decided to “fly united?”

And those are just some of the highlights of set designer Tim Wood’s little slice of “Armadillo Acres” — a “premiere mobile-living community,” Wood has designed and built two trailers side-by-side. One trailer houses festive, Christmas-spirited North Floridians; the other: a delightfully feisty version of (Charles Dickens’) Scrooge, a Scrooge who declares that “Christmas is for dummies.” Decked out in her “Ho-ho No!” Grumpy Cat t-shirt, she is just as ripe as Scrooge to be “shocked” into an attitude adjustment.

Judy Dove directs, Craig Johnson is musical director, and Lauren Knott is dance captain for this NRACT production. The result: a fast-paced piece that moves smoothly from gag-to-gag and scene-to-scene with upbeat music, song, and dance. By the way: the program also credits Alex Matsuo as Cheer Captain. (We will not spoil anything by explaining.)

After a curtain speech (delivered with a delightful drawl), we meet the good guys. Betty (Alex Matuso), Lin (Bonnie Webster), and Donna (a.k.a. Pickles) (Lauren Knott) immediately engage our attention through talk and song and dance, setting the stage for the action. Armadillo Acres is hoping to win a contest (lots of money) between trailer parks for the best Christmas decorations. They are soon joined onstage by Rufus (Danny Dove), who is every bit as committed to the cause as they are.

Enter Darlene (Melanie Carviou), the aforementioned Scrooge; and the conflict begins. These five characters are joined later by Jackie (Jon Todd), Darlene’s boss and lover. Further threats ensue, and conflict escalates.

The characters all have very distinct personalities. Caricatures? Yes, but fun to get to know. And these five form an ensemble that works together very nicely. Several of the actors also step into second (and third) roles here and there.

The music is great! The band is onstage, on the stage-right side of a low lattice-fence, keeping them in view but separate from the world-of-the-play — very nice touch. In addition to Johnson on keyboards, the band consists of Colton Loveless on bass, Tim Wall on drums, and David West on guitar. Although all of the singing is good, we feel compelled to single out Melanie Carviou as the strongest singer. Her belt-it-out style is perfect for Darlene’s pieces.

The costumes, designed by Ann Haigler, are delightfully appropriate for the setting and for the individual characters. Pay particular attention to the biker who appears in a memory and again in the dream-sequence. In fact, prepare to be quite amused by the costumes of all visitors who appear in that dream sequence. The scene in the diner involves costumes that also “stack-up” quite nicely.

The set includes a half-decorated Christmas tree that is located right on the line between the yards of the two trailers. The tree is meant to be a live, growing-from-the-ground tree, and the Department of Picky-Picky felt that the tree stand could have somehow been camouflaged so as to make that immediately obvious.

In addition, Picky-Picky would like to suggest that NRACT consider making tickets general admission. Arrive close to curtain time with a house-left seat, and you will see what we mean.

Be aware: adult themes and language abound, but they never become objectionable.

We do recommend The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical for an entertaining holiday diversion!

SECOND OPINION: Dec. 3rd Raleigh, NC Triangle Review review by Martha Keravuori and Chuck Galle:

North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre presents THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK CHRISTMAS MUSICAL at 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.

BOX OFFICE: 919-866-0228,, or

SHOW: and





Judy Dove (Raleigh, NC director and NRACT office administrator): (Facebook page).


Pamela Vesper has been a Raleigh resident for more than 20 years. A local attorney for licensed professionals, when she’s not in court, Pam can be found watching or participating in local theater productions or enjoying the vibrant Raleigh music and craft beer scene. She also loves indie and foreign films and was an anchor on the local cable show, Movie Minutes. Pam has an opinion on just about everything; just ask her. Kurt Benrud is a graduate of Cary High School and N.C. State University, and he has taught English at both. He first became involved in local theater in 1980. He has served on the board of directors for both the Cary Players and the Cary Playwrights’ Forum. He is also a volunteer reader with Triangle Radio Reading Service. Click here to read their reviews for Triangle Review and Triangle Arts and Entertainment.


  1. Thanks for the great review. So glad you enjoyed the show.

    Can you please correct the spelling of a couple of names? Melanie’s last name is Carviou. My last name is Haigler. Thank you!

  2. I don’t think making the tickets General Admission would necessarily help that much. To me it’s a bit of a danger, the lack of an audience-left aisle, can you imagine if a full house needed to be quickly emptied, or if a fire was at audience right?

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