REVIEW: The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Waterloo East Theatre)

trailer“It will blow away your cobwebs” said my friend as we emerged from ‘The Great American Trailer Park Musical’ and I’m inclined to agree: this quirky show with music and lyrics by David Nehls and book by Betsy Kelso premiered Off-Broadway in 2005. The show follows the love triangle between agoraphobic Jeanie (Jemma Alexander), her ex-football player husband Norbert (Adam Vaughan) and new-exotic-dancer-in-town Pippi (Sabrina Aloueche), all of whom are residents of ‘Armadillo Acres’: an ‘exclusive’ Trailer Park in the US state of Florida.

We’re lead sassily through the story by Armadillo Acres’ very own Greek chorus of Betty (West End legend Rosemary Ash), Lin (Michelle Bishop) and Pickles (Jodie Steele): think the Andrew’s Sisters on crack and in Day-Glo colours!

Trouble comes in the form of Duke (Josh Dever), Pippi’s spurned ex-lover who is in hot pursuit, determined to get her back! Will he succeed? Will Norbert choose his wife or his lover? Will Jeanie ever leave the trailer? You’ll have to head to Armadillo Acres to find out!

The cast deliver this quirky little show with panache: there is not a weak link in the chain, with every cast member excelling in terms of performance and vocal stylings. Particularly impressive are Alexander, Aloueche and Vaughan, who make a joyous sound together, particularly on the beautiful ‘But He’s Mine/It’s Never Easy’ – a real goose-bump number!

Musically, Act 2 is a lot stronger than Act 1, which occasionally slips into pastiche. There are, though, a few musical gems along the way – the Finale and ‘Owner of My Heart’ stands out (though it was a jarring choice to steer that song to melodrama in the final verse and chorus).

The whole production is flawlessly executed: what could easily be a dreary evening is brought to sparkling life at Waterloo East Theatre. From the simple but effective design from Anna Kelsey, via the wonderfully balanced band, marshalled by James Taylor, to the effective choreography of Rebecca Howell. All in all, this is a funny, silly, enjoyable show and a great night at the theatre: get a ticket before the show closes on 5th June – I promise you won’t regret it.

Reviewed by Jody Tranter

The Great Trailer Park Musical plays at Waterloo East Theatre until 5 June 2016