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Theater Review: 'The Great American Trailer Park Musical'

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 13, 2013
Laura Priscilla Hoffman, Melanie Souza and Liz Pascoe. Courtesy.
Laura Priscilla Hoffman, Melanie Souza and Liz Pascoe. Courtesy.
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“Trailer Park,” now gracing Venice Theatre’s Stage II, is an outrageously raunchy parody of so-called trailer-trash (read lower class) society. Written with some wit  — book by Betsy Kelso and music by David Nehls — the show successfully skewers popular predilections of the lightly educated, but throughout the hilarious bombardment of jokes at their expense, it manages to show sympathy for all the ridiculously stereotyped characters. It may be loud and lewd, but it’s not lacking in heart, and directed by Kelly Wynn Woodland, it goes by in the blink of an eye, punctuated by frequent chortling.

A parody is only as strong as the truth it seeks to exaggerate, and a musical only as good as its tunes. This production succeeds at both. With help from costume designer Priscilla Boyd and scenic designer John Michael Andzulis, we recognize the knickknacks that “make a house a home,” the tights and bosom boosting tops on the women, the men in loud t-shirts, oversized florals, and even some comedy icons like trench coats on FBI, striped PJs and a black fedora on the villain, Groucho Marx glasses with nose and mustache attached, a gold lame onesie and a penchant for Swarovski crystals.

The original music is lively, with catchy, danceable tunes, ranging from good old rock ‘n’ roll to country to ballad, with punchy, comical lyrics, all under the direction of Peter Madpak. Choreographer Laura Priscilla Hoffman keeps the talented cast on their high heels with lots of entertaining boogaloo and frug type moves as well as a hint of pole dancing.

All the players in the talented cast sing, dance, and spout funny lines. Andrea Keddell-Heintz plays agoraphobic trailer dweller Jeannie Garstecki, and Steven O’Dea plays her tempted-to-stray husband who frequently expounds “Holy Ham Sandwiches.” Pippi, beautifully played by Danae DeShazer, is a stripper hiding from her gun-toting boyfriend in the trailer for rent next door. All three sing a lovely medley, “But He’s Mine/It’s Never Easy.” Travis M. Rogers plays Duke, the boyfriend who, in one of the more pointedly satirical scenes pulls out his gun, only to see the entire trailer park pull out their guns. The girls, who are sort of a Greek chorus, as well as characters of their own, and who do the bulk of the singing and dancing are played by Melanie Souza as Betty, Laura Priscilla Hoffman as Lin, and Liz Pascoe as Donna/Tina.


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