Actor’s Theatre of Charlotte produces all sorts of shows in any given season, but when I think of the playhouse on Stonewall, I think of their comedies. Their productions of shows like Batboy and Evil Dead: the Musical seem to come to mind faster than their successful dramas like Black Pearl Sings or Rabbit Hole.
They’re going to have a hard time overcoming that preconceived notion if they keep producing (and bringing back) laugh-out-loud comedies like their current production, The Great American Trailer Park Musical.
Set in the real town of Starke, Florida, Trailer Park gives the audience a glimpse into the lives several residents of the (fictional) Armadillo Acres manufactured home community. Learning about the different characters is half of the fun, so I won’t spoil too much; suffice it to say there’s a cadre of unfortunate folks living there, with problems that range from cliché to outrageous.
As a musical, I had my concerns the last time Actor’s Theatre took us to Armadillo Acres. The show had a couple of sub-par singers in their production from a few years ago, and they wisely replaced them in this new version. Still, the vocals aren’t consistently great, though more often than not they are certainly good enough to satisfy. You wouldn’t buy the cast recording, but you wouldn’t turn it off either.
Fortunately, the real joy in Trailer Park comes from the acting. The dialogue in the show, particularly from three residents who serve as a sort of Greek chorus, is often hysterical – and this is coming from someone who heard it all several times when Actor’s Theatre introduced us to Trailer Park originally. The character of Linnie, in particular, had me grinning and shaking my head nearly every time she spoke.
Is this production flawless? No. Some of the performers still struggle with their vocals, and some are simply more effective actors than others. But as a cast, they are by and large very entertaining (and even charming) throughout.
Be prepared for unflattering stereotypes, crude language, and a whole lot of bad behavior… And be prepared to laugh yourself silly several times in both acts.