According to U.S. Census figures released in 2013, an estimated 20 million Americans live in mobile homes. Millions more think about mobile homes and their occupants whenever a severe thunderstorm, tornado or hurricane blows through a town.
So with such an ubiquitous piece of Americana (there's a BBC story expressing wonder about the number of trailer parks in the States) it's no wonder that The Great American Trailer Park Musical has done so well for Stages Repertory Theatre.
"We're asked about it all the time. When are we going to bring it back," says Stages Artistic Associate Mitchell Greco who will direct it for the first time. "It's our Christmas Carol." So in this their 40th anniversary season, it seemed more than appropriate to include it.
The reason this musical does so well, both here and elsewhere, Greco says, is because "It’s just really funny. It has some characters you root for, you love and it's really funny writing. The lyrics are hilarious." And, he adds, "But also along with that I think it has a giant beating heart that people can relate to. For me the play's about that underneath all the spray tan and glitter it invokes the survival and strength of a community "
At the same time, he says, audiences shouldn't mistake what they are about to see as denigrating mobile home park dwellers. "This play doesn't make fun of people who live in trailer parks," he says. "It’s just a setting where outrageous things can happen.
And apparently they do since the basic plot is that a stripper on the run enters their tight-knit community causing tension between an agoraphobic homemaker and her husband, a toll booth operator.
"They are good people doing their best. I think people can relate to that. Even with all the outrageous people in the play they're just people trying to make their lives better," Greco says.
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Although the songs are the same from the original 2006 production, Greco says this is a new production with a new stage design and costumes. Of the seven cast members, five have done the show before.
"A lot of people bring a lot of experience with the series and there's also new faces as well so it's been really fun to merge those two worlds,"he says. Susan Koozin, Carolyn Johnson, Holland Vavra and Brooke Wilson will repeat their roles while Josh Morrison (The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical), Teresa Zimmerman (Veronica's Room, Panto Mother Goose) and Thomas Griffin Williams (Panto Goldilocks) make up the rest of the cast.
One caution, Greco says: Young children should not move into the audience since if there was a rating on this particular community, it would fall somewhere between PG13 and R.
Performances are scheduled for May 4 through July 22 at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at Stages Repertory Theatre, 3201 Allen Parkway. For information call 713-527-0123 or visit stagestheatre.com. $25-$68.