Review: Dramatic License Productions' 'The Great American Trailer Park Musical' is a Tasty Theater Treat

By Christopher Reilly
In Culture

At Shady Acres trailer park in Stark, Florida, one suspiciously dead husband is buried out back, another husband is on death row, and another one is having an affair with a stripper whose gun-toting, psychotic ex-boyfriend is on his way to settle the score and take back his woman. It sounds like the makings of a heavy drama—or at least the subject of a Jerry Springer show. Instead, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is a hilarious tale of trashy but lovable trailer park residents that’s more theater appetizer than meal, and with a slew of delicious performances, it goes down easier than a slug of Bud after Cheese Whiz on a Ritz. In a word: Yum.

The cast of The Great American Trailer Park Musical

The cast of The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Photo by John Lamb

While “Trailer Park” is an ensemble show, the story revolves around mild-mannered and sweet toll-collector Norbert Garstecki (Jeffrey Pruett) and his agoraphobic wife, Jeannie (Jamie Lynn Eros), who hasn’t left the trailer since the couple’s infant son was kidnapped. Norbert just wants to take his trailer-bound wife to the Ice Capades for their 20th anniversary, because as everyone in the trailer park agrees, it isn’t entertainment if it doesn’t take place on ice. But the Mrs. can’t get up the courage to go outdoors, and in frustrated loneliness, Norbert falls into the arms of new resident, Pippi (Leah Stewart), a stripper who is hiding out from her magic marker-huffing boyfriend (Luke Steingruby).

The Great American Trailer Park Musical Photo by John Lamb

The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Photo by John Lamb

Filling out the cast in fine form is a three-lady Greek chorus who delightfully sing their way through the show and perform other roles as needed. Kim Furlow is fabulous as Betty, the queen bee of the park (whose husband’s final resting place is an unmarked spot behind a double-wide), and Stephanie Merritt does a fine turn as Linoleum (named for where she was born), who tries to stop her husband’s prison execution by encouraging the residents to turn on all their electrical appliances, thereby taking all the electricity. Stephanie Benware is adorable as Pickles, a dim-witted gal prone to hysterical pregnancies.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical  Photo by John Lamb

The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Photo by John Lamb

The pivotal characters also turn in very strong performances. Jamie Lynn Eros, Jeffrey Pruett, Leah Stewart and Luke Steingruby shine both vocally and acting-wise. Eros elicits sympathy as the house-bound wife who gradually begins to overcome her agoraphobia—first a toe, then a foot, then her whole body—at least as far as the front porch. Husband Pruett impresses all across the board, exhibiting strong vocals and some entertaining dance moves during the disco number (his obligatory leisure suit is one of many costuming highlights by designer Lisa Hazelhorst, as is the Frankie Says Relax t-shirt Eros wears in one scene).

Stewart as the stripper is probably the only sane character in the bunch, and she renders a mean ballad too. Steingruby is hilarious as the psycho boyfriend, especially on his number “Road Kill,” during which he huffs the opened magic markers strapped to his wrist and goes off into hysterical fits of diabolical laughter. He also executes one of the most hilarious stage crosses of all time.

Director Alan Knoll has done a remarkable job corralling the hyper show into a tight space and creating a production that’s a blur of consumable comedy, and props are due as well to Stephen Eros’ musical direction and the band, Zachary Sefaniak’s choreography, Max Parrilla’s lights, and Kerrie Mondy’s sound.

While “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” might be light on nutrition, it is nevertheless a totally tasty evening of theater hijinks. But leave the Cheese Whiz at home. This show is deliciously cheesy all by itself.

Dramatic License Productions’ “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” continues through Sept. 21. For tickets and information, visit the Dramatic License Productions website.

Follow Christopher Reilly on Twitter @ChristoReilly

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