by MICHAEL BOWEN & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & I & lt;/span & t's the theatrical equivalent of fried Twinkies: not "good for you" and not meant to be. Just tasty.
In The Great American Trailer Park Musical (at the Bing through Sunday), Norbert feels held back by his agoraphobic wife Jeannie -- venturing outside the trailer is really scary to her -- and so he seeks solace in the arms of a stripper named Pippi. Who just happens to move into "Armadillo Acres, Florida's most exclusive trailer park" -- and who's on the run from her controlling bad boy of a boyfriend, Duke.
It's a show full of pink lawn flamingoes, fire-engine red nail polish, cheese fries, mullets, road kill, big hair, spray cheese and zebra-striped underwear. It opens with a girl-group (the GATPM version of a Greek chorus) singing "This Side of the Tracks," just in case we might think that anybody in this show could possibly be on the wrong side. Jeannie hopes that some name-brand household cleansers will help her from getting "Flushed Down the Pipes." Pippi does a zipless strip to "The Buck Stops Here." And then Duke appears, menacing in black leather, maintaining his high by sniffing Magic Markers, grabbing a steering wheel as he mimes driving all over the South in search of that no-good, runaway girlfriend of his: "Enough of talkin' tough, / Nobody walks out on me without things gettin' rough," he sings in "Road Kill" as the chorus girls throw stuffed animals under the wheels of his car. "Well, walkin' out on me / That's just a nasty habit / You're bound to get in trouble like this little bunny rabbit [bam!] / It's just a little road kill...."
& lt;span class= "dropcap " & B & lt;/span & etsy Kelso, who wrote the musical's book, grew up in the suburbs of Connecticut. But if you doubt that anybody with such a background could write accurately about trailer park folks (and without demeaning them), think again. "Just as not all trailer park residents are impoverished and uneducated," writes Kelso, "not all Connecticut suburbanites are wealthy country-club members. I come from a small town that actually has a trailer park. When I was younger, I had a friend who lived there, and whenever I would go over there to play, I remember thinking how cool and compact everything was."
Kelso says that she and composer/lyricist David Nehls didn't think of their Trailer Park characters as Jerry Springer freaks. "David and I don't actually consider ourselves all that different from these people," she says. The show's mantra -- "make like a nail ... and press on" -- is meant to be goofy-inspirational for all of us, whether our communities are of the mobile-home or gated variety.
Then again, Kelso's not above a little satire. "I actually got a full set of super-long nails applied for the opening of Trailer Park in New York," she says. "They had 'W-H-I-T-E T-R-A-S-H' spelled out across them." But don't raise the hackles of your political correctness: Kelso claims that her acrylic nail spell-out "was intended to be celebratory, ironic and 100 percent self-referential." In other words, she was laughing at herself, at the ways in which she's like white trash and white trash is like her. And while we're on the subject, what if we just trashed that term altogether? Because families that live in double-wides have to deal with their problems and reach for their dreams. Just like the rest of us. So make like a nail: Press on.
The Great American Trailer Park Musical at the Bing on Thursday-Saturday, Jan. 10-12, at 8 pm, and on Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 12-13, at 3 pm. Tickets: $22-$27. Visit www.trailerparkmusical.com or call 325-SEAT.