6/30/2022 THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL Marietta Theatre Co
THE THIN BLUE (TWO-BIT RAGGEDY-ASS) DENIM LINE
(Bias Alert: I am the Lighting Designer for this production and like to imagine I’m friends with everyone involved. More to the point, there are only four more performances remaining, all of which are sold out. So, consider this not a review, but a shameless PR preview that I am sharing because I’m fond of the piece I wrote fifteen years ago for the Actor’s Express production, and I just want to validate my shallow and empty life by reposting it now. With edits, of course.)
There is mighty thin line between a stereotype and an affectionate exaggeration. Often, different folks’ll argue ‘bout where that line is, how fuzzy or focused it is, and whether it’s a good thing or a lazy thing to wallow in it. Take The Great American Trailer Park Musical, for example. Fifteen years ago, the more well-compensated reviews charged it with going after “easy targets” without affordin’ the characters any respect or affection beyond cheap-shot caricatures.
I respectfully disagreed then, and I respectfully disagree now – especially after witnessing other productions and living with this show since May.
I like the folks in GATPM and I think the creators (script, music, production, actors) like ‘em too. Sure, the jokes can be cheap and cheesy, the songs half-a-measure from self-parody, and the performances deliberately over the top. But, even after all these years, all this exposure, they strike me as real (marker-sniffin’ notwithstandin’) and on the good’n’goofy side of that thin blue (two-bit raggedy-ass) denim line. Or, to paraphrase the openin’ lyric, “…on THIS side of that” [thin blue (two-bit raggedy-ass) denim line].
GATPM is the classic story: marriage getting a little stale after thirty years because agoraphobic wife can’t step out of the trailer. Husband falls for stripper-nest-door who is running away from her psycho permanent-marker-sniffin’ ex-boyfriend. Yeesh! How often have we seen this story? I just may be the official State Yarn for Florida. Add on an easily-spotted Act II plot twist (which I could tell you, but then I’d have to whoop you wid de ugly stick), and what we have is a two-act tunefest that affectionately spins out the cliches, turns them on their pointy heads, and barbecues ‘em with some beans and sweet tea. And, just for you folks who have English Major chromosomes, they were thoughtful enough to include a Geek Chorus of ladies who tell us the story while playin’ all the supportin’ parts.
Getting’ back to this thin-blue-(two-bit raggedy-ass)-denim-line metaphor, what is it that would make me, a cynical old coot of a skeptic, part ways with my more professional colleagues-in-judgment, all of whom are perceptive, articulate, and hopelessly enamored of theatre, like you and me and all of us? I don’t know. It’s a mystery.
Maybe it’s the surprise. A wallow in stereotype followed by a heartfelt confession that rings true. A toe-tapping bouncy song followed by a whimsical ballad. A hard-driving score that isn’t afraid to stop and smell the roadkill. I just like spending time with these characters, and really have shamefully wallowed in their lives for the last coupla weeks of rehearsal and performance (yes I AM in the light booth for every performance).
‘Nuff Said! Fifteen years ago, I enjoyed this play. I even bought the T-Shirt, which I occasionally wear (one must be circumspect where to wear a T-Shirt emblazoned with “You are a Whore” on its backside).
So, call the theatre – maybe there’s a waiting list. Maybe there’s a volunteer opening. In any case, this production will let you learn which side of that thin blue (two-bit raggedy-ass) denim line owns your bahookey!
-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol,com #MariettaTheatreCo #GATPM)
THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL
Book by Betsy Kelso
Music & Lyrics by David Nehls
Our Team: Artists and Geniuses All:
Gina Ann Riggs as Jeannie
Brian Brooks as Norbert
Jenn Loudermilk as Betty
Katrina Stroup as Pickles
Heather Schutz as Lin
Angela Rodriguez as Pippi
Zac Phelps as Duke
Directed by Blaine Clotfelter
Music Directed by Brian Osborne
Choreographed by Zac and Angela
Stage Managed by Keila Jonnson
Set Design and Construction by Mike Clotfelter (and his talented minions)
Sound designed by Bailey Lamb and run by Caty Mae Loomis
Lights designed and run by some guy who still can’t manage to create a smooth and even wash in this space