If you’re a fan of poor girls with more sass than class (think Elly May Clampett, Dolly Parton and Honey Boo Boo) then Island ETC East End Theatre’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is one show you won’t want to miss.

By Betsy Kelso with music and lyrics by David Nehls, the musical opened off-Broadway in 2005 and has been so successful they’ve penned a Christmas version.

Sure the story’s silly and slight but the tunes are lively, the laughs are easy, and there is not one but five trailer park divas to follow.

There’s agoraphobic Jeannie who is trying to step outside her trailer for the first time in decades so she can celebrate her wedding anniversary at the Ice Capades. Pippi, the stripper, is new in town but already has her eyes on Jeannie’s husband, Norbert.

Then there’s Betty who has a secret buried deep in the trailer park. While Lin’s husband is on death row and facing the electric chair as soon as the county has enough power to juice it up. Finally, there’s Pickles whose hysterical pregnancy has given her all the symptoms of being actually pregnant — like eating food and getting fat.

Kudos to Director Kim Mytelka, cast and crew for creating an entertaining night out. Everyone’s having fun on stage, the songs are well amplified, and the live band, led by Carol Daubert, is tight.

ETC favorite Robin Lusby Schaefer is touching and funny as Jeannie and she’s nicely matched with Brandon del Castillo as her clueless lug of a husband, Norbert. His booming voice is one of many highlights.

Newcomer Katie Harrison was entertaining as Pippi and her final duet with Lusby Schaefer, where she exalts the need to “make like a nail and press on” is a real show stopper.

Sandi Morgan (Betty), Penny Rieger (Lin) and Hanna Harper (Pickles) are an impish chorus with the comic timing of stand-up comedians and sweet singing chops. All have some fantastically funny moments but Harper is particularly good as the nice but dim Pickles.

Another scene stealer is Luther Chakurian as Duke. The Zac’s Mac Shack and Cabaret House co-owner has a great time playing the magic marker sniffing, road kill eating, crazy ex-boyfriend of Pippi.

On the design side, Jutta Franklin’s costumes are perfectly tacky and the characters sport more big hair and mullets than a Van Halen tribute concert thanks to Tony Garcia’s fine work.

Lisa Miller’s lighting design relies too heavily on a pink and blue color palate and, while there’s a good use of follow spot, some of the musical numbers need more dynamic lighting akin to a concert.

Tom Boone’s set design works well with some nice touches like the washing line turned stripper pole and the sliding wall that lets us peek right inside Jeannie and Norbert’s trailer.

“The Great American Trailer Park Musical” is a guilty pleasure akin to watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and eating cheese balls. It’s a night of easy laughs, big songs and nothing to tax the brain — the perfect show to stretch your spring break into April.


‘The Great American Trailer Park Musical’

When: Until April 12; performances are 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday

Where: 2317 Mechanic, Galveston

Tickets: $27 to $22 with discounts for students and seniors; call 409-762-3556 or visit www.islandetc.org

Shannon Caldwell lives on Galveston Island and has been a journalist and theater reviewer for 20 years.

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