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The Great American Trailer Park Musical

a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : MUSICAL
by David Nehls (score)/Betsy Kelso (book)

COMPANY : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Actor's Express [WEBSITE]
ID# 1669

SHOWING : March 22, 2007 - April 21, 2007

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

No one does Southern trailer park comedy like Actor’s Express, and this time we’re adding MUSIC!!! Finally - a little culture.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Freddie Ashley
Choreographer Ricardo Aponte
Props Master Elisabeth Cooper
Music Director Bryan Mercer
Lighting and Sound Designer Joseph P. Monaghan III
Scenic Designer Jonathan Williamson
Duke Jeremy Aggers
Norbert Dolph Amick
Lin Christy Baggett
Costume Design Jamie Bullins
Pickles Sharon Litzky
Jeannie Wendy Malconian
Pippi Claci Miller
Betty Libby Whittemore
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

The Thin Blue (Two-Bit Raggedy-Ass) Line
by Dedalus
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
4.0
It’s a thin line between a stereotype and an affectionate exaggeration. Often, different folks’ll even argue ‘bout where that line is. Take “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” for example. Brother-in-Ink Curt Holman thinks it goes after “easy targets” without affordin’ the characters any respect or affection, such as can found in “My Name is Earl.” Well, I gotta tell you, I tuned out of “Earl” midway through its first season because I thought it lacked any real affection for its characters, beyond easy cheap-shot caricatures that quickly got real durn unfunny then real durn tirin’ then real durn borin.’ On the other hand, I liked the folks in GATPM, and I thought the creators (script, music, production, actors) liked ‘em too. Sure, the jokes were cheap and easy, the songs half-an-inch from self-parody, and the performances broad ‘n cheesy. But the characters struck me as real (Marker-sniffin’ notwithstandin’) and on the good side of that thin blue (two-bit raggedy-ass) line (or, to paraphrase the openin’ lyric, “They were on THIS side of that thin blue (two-bit raggedy-ass) line”).

GATPM is the classic story: Boy and girl getting’ tired after twenty years (since agoraphobic girl can’t step out of their trailer), Boy falls for the stripper next door, Girl boots him out, Boy and Girl and Stripper have to hide from the marker-sniffin’ psycho chasin’ down the stripper. Yeesh! How often have we seen that one! Add on an easily-spotted late Act plot twist (which I could tell you, but then I’d have to kill you), and what we have is a two-act tunefest that affectionately spins out the cliches, turns them on their pointy heads, then barbecues ‘em with some beans and sweet tea. And, just for you folks who like classics mixed with your cornpone, they were thoughtful enough to include a Geek Chorus of misfits who tell us the story while playin’ all the supportin’ parts.

Getting’ back to this Thin-blue-(two-bit raggedy-ass)-line metaphor, what is that would make me, a cynical old skeptic, part ways with Brother Holman, who’s perceptive, articulate, and obviously loves the the-ater as much as we all do? It may be as simple as a tired-cast opening night versus a late-run full-of-beans party. If the cast is sleepy, do they make “easy choices” as opposed to the more surprising choices I saw? Maybe. Sice I missed open’ night, I’ll never know, will I? Book and Lyrics, to my eyes, dipped into the Caricature-Jar only occasionally, to add flavor or cheap laughs; at heart, these characters were full of heart (even if filtered through a psycho-marker-sniffin’ fog) and surprise. It’s the surprise that lifts them out of the hog-wallow! It’s their drive and heart, and willingness to survive all the slop that keeps raining down on their heads. I didn’t see the characters as “targets” at all, but as folks just keepin’ their heads above the clichés with a smile, a song, and tuneful strip-tease. I liked them, and enjoyed spendin’ the evening with them.

Pipes-wise, I really have to pay homage to Claci Miller, who gives a smart and sexy portrait of the runaway stripper, and more than holds her own against seasoned pros Wendy Melkonian and Libby Whittemore (not that there was anything wrong with them). She leads the cast in the final number, an anthem to survival, which makes us laugh at the same time it moves us to mistiness. This is, by the far, the best musical performance of the year, and, if it’s not recognized come Suzi-Time, there is no justice in the South! (For you natives, that statement is what’s known as “irony” in English-Major circles).

If I have one complaint (and when don’t I?), I would have loved to see the songs unamplified. It’s a small house, none of the singers seemed to have any trouble projecting, and the amplification seemed to make the whole thing a little less tacky than would’ve been good for it.

‘Nuff Said! I bought their Play, their Songs, and their T-Shirt. Give it a try! Find out which side of that Thin Blue (Two-Bit Raggedy-Ass) Line owns your bahookey!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)

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Dang! That wuz some mighty fine the-ater!
by Sweet Babboo
Monday, April 16, 2007
5.0
More fun than a case of PBR at a Tractor Pull!

Okay, I've never actually been to a tractor pull and even the faintest whiff of PBR makes me nauseous. Nevertheless, the gang down at AE charmed the pants off me (not as easy a feat as rumored) all evening long. Catchy songs with surprisingly clever lyrics, interesting characters who didn't succumb to being one-note caricatures and a first-rate cast who knew how to sell this material.

Other than I saw the twist-ending coming a mile away, I can't quibble about anything about this production. This has been the most fun I've had in the theatre so far this year. Run, don't walk, to AE to catch this production before even the extended run sells out...And I hope it does. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]
The best voices below the Dixie line!
by St. Genesius
Thursday, March 29, 2007
5.0
It's like a Southern, non-puppet, version of Avenue Q. The musical revolves around a Flordia trailer park community where everyone knows each other's business. The talent in this show could take it to Broadway too. Not only are the characters Pippi, played by Claci Miller, and Jeannie, played by Wendy Melkonian fighting for the same man, but they're also fighting for who has the most amazing voice. I was mesmerized by them both!

It was sometimes difficult to follow all the words in the songs. The men's vocies tended to start off weak but end strong. There was also this sort of pause between I'm going to talk and then break out into a song about my life. It wasn't as smooth of a transition as musicals have to be.

I absolutley love that Libby Whittemore was the main narrator of this musical and was performing at Actor's Express. Who else can tell a Southern story and sing it than Libby. I have heard about this woman and was always planning to go to her cabaret. I was upset to read in her bio. that she closed the cabaret in late '06. I'm very happy to see her performing. She was the most natural performer on stage. She could slip into the Judds without them thinking once that she wasn't a sister. This woman was probably born on a stage singing a Patsy Cline song.

This show is worth seeing for the talent alone! However, it's a pretty funny storyline as well. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

OPENING SOON
The Summer of Our Discontent
by various
Onion Man Productions
CLOSING SOON
Antigone
by Sophocles, translated by Owen McCafferty
Impulse Repertory Co.
Little Shop of Horrors
by Howard Ashman (words) & Alan Menken (music)
Actor's Express
NOW PLAYING
Ada and the Memory Engine
by Lauren Gunderson
Essential Theatre
Antigone
by Sophocles, translated by Owen McCafferty
Impulse Repertory Co.
Little Shop of Horrors
by Howard Ashman (words) & Alan Menken (music)
Actor's Express
The Spy Who Murdered Me
by Kevin Gillese
Agathas: A Taste of Mystery
The Summer of Our Discontent
by various
Onion Man Productions
Uprooting
by Betty Chaney
Academy Theatre

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