The Great American Trailer Park Musical
Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy
At Kennedy Theatre, Progress Energy Center
Through July 11
Redneck humor is a staple of regional theater, whether it is the travails of Greater Tuna or Jessie Jones, Nicholas Hope and Jamie Wooten’s tales of Fayro, Texas, in such plays as Dearly Beloved. The opportunity for outrageous outfits and accents often proves a pleaser for crowds and a pain for critics, who must sit through hundreds of corny jokes and bad stereotypes.
Hot Summer Nights at the Kennedy’s production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical alternately mocks and celebrates these tropes, but even the efforts of a cast performing the hell out of this material can’t resuscitate a flimsy plot that relies on such lines as “Holy ham sammiches!”
Trailer Park, which has enjoyed a number of national and international stagings since it was first produced in 2004, revolves around a ridiculous love triangle that erupts at the Armadillo Acres trailer park between the agoraphobic Jeannie (Lisa Jolley from last summer’s Kennedy production of Sylvia), her toll booth attendant husband Norbert (fellow Kennedy vet Michael Jones) and stripper Pippi (Canady Vance Thomas).
Unable to leave the house for the Ice Capades, Jeannie unknowingly pushes Norbert into Pippi’s arms, which puts everyone in the crosshairs of Jesse’s psycho ex Duke (Jesse Gephart). All of this is commented upon by a trio of trailer park residents with bad perms and tacky outfits (Lauren Barone, Gina Stewart and Sandi Sullivan).
The musical parodies Rent in its staging, with a live band and a large frame on stage, and the actors throw themselves into the material as they climb on the frame, do elaborate choreography, and wear a variety of crimes against fashion (let’s just say some unitards wind up on people who should not wear unitards). Director Tito Hernandez keeps the actors moving and joking throughout each scene, keeping the energy level high.
Still, this is a musical that relies on such gags as characters named “Pickles” and “Linoleum,” a magazine named Mobile Homes and Gardens and such lyrics as “I’m gonna make like a nail and press on.” The songs are well performed, but they’re still numbers about strip clubs and QVC, with plenty of profanity thrown in for shock value.
The Great American Trailer Park Muscial has a sense of humor about itself, and some of the dirty one-liners get big laughs from the audience. But it all depends on whether you have a taste for such puns as “You’re going to paint the town red … neck!” If deep-fried Southern stereotypes are your thing, this is the musical for youand less so if you’re sick of cheesy white trash jokes, even though the talented cast and crew make this the best of a bad crop.