Canada's Got Talent Daniel Dimarco

Hart House’s production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical is a lot like the junk food the characters snack on: you know it’s not high-brow, but if you’re hungry, it’ll hit the spot. High in energy and low on content, this musical is more enjoyable than last year’s Jerry Springer Opera, keeping similar overtones of the gleeful trashy, but attacking them with more cutes than crass.

The audience is welcomed into Armadillo Acres by the play’s three spandex-wearing, sun-tanning, sex-having muses; Betty (Saphire Demitri), Linoleum (Jennifer Morris), and Pickles (Sarite Harris). With great harmonies and snappy dialogue, it’s unfortunate their dynamics are often overshadowed by the married couple of Norbert (James R. Woods) and Jeannie (Janice Hawke).

After losing their child to a kidnapping, Jeannie becomes agoraphobic and their marriage deteriorates. Adding more trouble to the mix is Pippi (Kelly McCormack), a stripper on the run from a crazy-eyed, marker-sniffing, sociopathic ex, Duke (Justin Bott). Pippi and Norbert begin an affair. This generally distressing subject matter is handled pretty well and not really mined for laughs; though laughs are plentiful in this production. The humour is usually derived from the cartoonish characters rather than the reality of life in a trailer park.

The set is quaint and quirky, setting the scene with the only dose of subtlety in the play (note the retro political bumper stickers), succeeding in making the trailer park feel homey with Christmas lights and bright colours. Costumes are fun, and often throwbacks to whatever style was popular in which the period of the music playing in the background was made.

Choreography was a little weak, with pelvic thrusts quickly becoming predictable, but this is the fault of the repetitive lyrical themes, which left the audience a bit underwhelmed. McCormack’s pole-dancing prowess made her the easiest dancer to watch.

Many songs felt somewhat stagnant, (despite all-around standout vocalists and a great band), relying on 80s references and sometimes not serving to develop character or move the plot along. In the instances overtly intended to give depth to generally one-dimensional characters, it seemed like an uphill battle to inspire pathos, especially for Pippi.

All of the actors were well-suited for their roles and a joy to watch. While the material is predictable, it’s pretty fun, and one can’t help but get a bit wrapped up in the schmaltzy hospitality of a faux trailer park in Florida.

Additional Info

  • Subtitle: In American Trailer Parks
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