A trailerpark is an unlikely setting for a Musical. But for director Sean Patterson, a trailerpark is an all-too familiar setting, having spent the last 2 years with his now-wife, Cammie West, in a FEMA trailer. With toxic trailers currently in the headlines, The Great American Trailer Park Musical is both timely and wildly high-larious. The Jefferson Performing Arts Society presents The Great American Trailer Park Musical at their Westwego Performing Arts Theatre, a surprisingly nice venue that underwent a facelift just prior to Katrina. Thankfully, the same contractor returned to fix it after the storm.
The clever set design by Cameron MacDonald features 3 trailers on stage. I was delighted when the interiors of the trailers slid out to reveal other locations, such as a strip club. Visible inside the center-most trailer, Musical Director Jefferson Turner manages to transform a trio into a full orchestra. Ok, maybe not an orchestra, but a lotta instruments a la Casio.
Triple-threat Jessie Terrebonne (singer, dancer, actress) gives the strongest all-around performance as a stripper who moves to the trailer park, sparking marital strife. Soprano belter Meredith Long, as the Big Mama of the Shady Acres trailer park, flattened our hair with her vocals. The male lead, Ford Dieth, sings with a rich baritone after he's warmed up. But he sang his first 3 songs on Opening Night with cold vocal chords, and we could not hear him from the front row. In a love duet with Cammie West, Dieth suddenly found his voice and sustained it through the rest of the production.
We managed to get ourselves invited to the Opening Night after-party and hob-nobbed with the stars. My friend said "oh look! All the food is trailer-park themed, just like the musical." But I cautioned him to be sure before he said that to anyone else. Maybe over in Westwego they like to entertain with pigs-in-a-blanket and 7-layer bean dip? I asked one of the cast. Whew! The food was trailer-park themed on purpose. I loaded up on Swedish meatballs. They were very generous with the liquor, and at one point, I saw actress Cammie West, true to her character, swig straight from a bottle.