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THEATER REVIEW: "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" is a holiday treat

The title tells it all: “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is a spoof of the double-wide life, complete with five big-haired, trash-talking divas and two guys with their own problems.

We’re in Armadillo Acres, folks, a trailer park in Sparke, Florida, plastered with helpful signs like “No Name Dr.,” “Warning: Alligators may be present” and “Happy Hooker Bait & Tackle,” and where “The Girls” – Betty (Melinda Gilb), Linoleum (Leigh Scarritt) and Pickles (Kailey O’Donnell) serve as narrators/Greek chorus as they describe life on “The Other Side of the Tracks.”

The plot is thin and familiar: Norbert (David Kirk Grant) is trying to get his agoraphobic bride of 20 years Jeannie (Courtney Corey), out of the trailer to celebrate the occasion with a trip to the Ice Capades.

The problem is that Jeannie’s been in that trailer (you know, the one with the pink toilet used as a planter outside) ever since their baby son was abducted by a caped bandit all those years ago. But she knows Norbert isn’t going to wait much longer.

Then there’s the teenaged and very pregnant Pickles, whose sperm donor is nowhere to be found, and the hot-pantsed big blonde Linoleum, whose husband has been on death row for oh, who knows how many years.

When the new girl arrives – stripper Pippi (Jill Van Velzer), fleeing her violent magic marker-sniffing boyfriend Duke (a hilarious David McBean), you just know all hell will break loose.

Betsy Kelso wrote the book and David Nehls the music and lyrics for “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” which plays through Dec. 11 at San Diego Repertory Theatre. Sam Woodhouse directs.

The music spans genres – country, R&B and rockabilly – and much of it is upbeat, bouncy, and toe-tappable. The lyrics are clever, though unfortunately the Rep’s sound system makes it difficult if not impossible to understand them.

This show seems to work better in a smaller venue, where sound systems are less of an issue, and where smaller budgets keep the visuals down to what one might expect in a trailer park. The Vegas-style glitz here seems like overkill, funny but somehow not fitting in with the program.

There’s a huge amount of talent on display: five divas with big voices and two guys with great pipes as well. All have terrific comic timing. And keep an eye on Rancho Bernardo High School student O’Donnell: She’s a comer.

Javier Velasco’s choreography adds a few giggles to the proceedings, as do Louticia Grier and Peter Herman’s outrageous wigs. Lonnie Alcaraz’s lighting design is fine.

Woodhouse announced before the show that this is his contribution to the holidays. If you’re tired of Dickens and the Grinch, and are in the mood for trash-talkin’ women, you just might like this show.

The details

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” plays through Dec. 11 at San Diego Repertory Theatre, 79 Horton Plaza.

Thursday through Saturday at 8 pm; matinee Sunday at 2 pm. Some Saturdays at 2 and some Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 pm.

For tickets call (619) 544-1000 or visit HERE.

To read more reviews by SDGLN Theater Critic Jean Lowerison, click HERE.