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Review: Ignite Hitches Up the ‘Trailer’

The Great American Trailer Park Musical could be titled The Greatest American Trailer Park Musical — and we’re pretty sure that there isn’t another one that could really compete. It’s a crass, light comedy that hits on all of the stereotypes of the poor, rural, portable south. We meet Jeannie, who is cursed with agoraphobia in the smallest home one can possibly imagine, and her understandably strained relationship with her husband Norbert. Add into the mix Pippi, a stripper on the run, and three hilarious women that form an eclectic Greek chorus, and you’re set for an evening of trailer-rockin’, innuendo-makin’, beer-drinkin’ fun!

Trailer Park‘s Heart is as Strong as Hurricane

HE SAID: What truly makes this musical itself wonderful is that it is never what you expect. You hear the title and you might expect a simple night of low-brow, redneck, nothing by entertainment kind of show. There would be nothing wrong with that show. And this show has plenty of that. But when you think it’s a country show, you get rock music, then blues, and even some disco thrown in for good measure. But the biggest surprise is that through all of the hootin’ and hollerin’, the show also has its moments of sincerity and heart.

SHE SAID: Totally true — a show that is just filled with stereotypes and fluff has a very short half-life. Most of the real heart in this one is captured in Jeanie and Norbert’s relationship — played by Margie Lamb and Patrick Brownson. They’re able to convey their implicit history — 20 years of loving familiarity, without much effort. The funniest parts of the show, as always, are the parts where the actors are playing the comic moments with  the utmost sincerity. A great example of this is Alix Brickley as Pickles. She plays every ditzy moment as so sincerely bewildered, and it brings out the laughs every single time.

Brickley, Hancock, Tisdale Shine Like a Pink Flamingo

HE SAID: Brickley, along with Stephanie Hancock as Betty and Maggie Tisdale as Lin (the other two members of the trailer park version of a Greek chorus), pretty much owned the show for me. The three women blended so marvelously together they should take that act out on the road. Even amongst some of the larger group scenes, where they were only singing back-up, their vocals were supportive yet clear and distinct. Their comedic timing as a group was superb, as well. The whole package was there and it left me most invested in these three more than any others in the show.

SHE SAID : For me, it would have been great if I was invested in everything as much as I was in the girls, but the girls were probably the busiest ones in the show — it seemed like they were always onstage and always entertaining. At the very least, the central conflict (the disruption of Jeannie and Norbert’s marriage) would have been a lot less interesting without the three providing comic relief and backup. 

Some Design Choices Nailed, Others Struggle

HE SAID: I think part of the reason I had trouble connecting with the central characters was due to a few technical elements. The sound in the studio space is always a bit difficult to deal with and sacrifices are made. I could always hear the group numbers. But the rockin’ band, which hilariously acted as almost another group of cast members,  at times would cover up some of the more personal moments (mostly when positioned farther away from the audience). The other element was the costuming for Jeannie and Norbert. Norbert especially (with his Hawaiian shirt, cargo shorts, and American Eagle shoes) had nothing particularly hillbilly/redneck about his look. I much prefer the blue plaid look he had in the photo above, but what was in the show was a bit lacking.

SHE SAID: A studio space is always challenging. The set design was bright, fun, and totally in line with the atmosphere of the show. The atmosphere, by the way, is worth the price of admission alone. One dollar PBR and “Hunch Punch” are for sale before the show, and as you say, the band hung out around the flag/stripper pole during the pre-show and intermission. But the one difficult part of the set design was that the trailers closed off the already small space quite a bit, which as you say, caused a couple of sound problems. I also agree that the costumes were sort of in line with the surprising balance between leads and the chorus you mentioned above — the girls’ costumes were great, from the Flan Hat to the dancing roadkill. Aside from an amazing wig, there is nothing outrageous about the leads’ costumes, which perhaps was a missed opportunity.

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Ignite’s Atmosphere Kicks Ass, Trailer Park Brings Laughs

THEY SAID:  Everything about the production is set up to put you in a great mood from beginning to end. Even before the show, the house staff greets you in redneck character, offering you a beer and some chips. Some of the characters chat with you right as the show begins. That plus encouraging the audience to dress up is really exciting. Not that every show needs that kind of immersion but in this case you are left feeling welcome, warmed up, ready to laugh and this show definitely delivers on that front. There are some wonderfully funny moments in this show, so strap on your huge belt buckle and your trucker hat and head on down to the Aurora Fox studio theater before the show closes this weekend.

For more information on The Great American Trailer Park Musical, see the wikipedia page.The Great American Trailer Park Musical plays through May 6th in the Studio Theater at the Aurora Fox Click the banner for tickets and more information.

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