Nearly every family group, whether it is biological, chosen or accidental, has at least one member who just can’t, or won’t, go with the flow.
At Armadillo Acres, North Florida’s Premiere Trailer Park, in Flying Anvil Theatre’s current production of “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical,” the square wheel is Darlene Seward, played with gusto by Keri McClain.
It was fortuitous scheduling to wrap the play’s opening around Thanksgiving, the one time of year when most families make some degree of effort to be together.
In their little corner of Armadillo Acres, Rufus (Doug James), Betty (Dana Wham), Pickles (Kadi Brazil) and Linoleum (Chevy Anz), who was so named because she was born on the kitchen floor, have decorated their trailers and put up a Christmas tree – complete with a tree-topper Rufus made from a truck mud-flap nude in the yard. But only half of the tree is decorated because the other half hangs over Darlene’s property line.
David Dwyer and Vicki Sparks’ set design of two trailers feels just right, although a step or three below “Premiere” status.
Directed by Jayne Morgan, the show delivers much of the dialogue directly to the audience in asides, a dramatic device to clue in the audience about something the characters on stage may not know about.
It works, because there are moments when some of the characters seem clueless anyway.
Betty, the trailer park manager, works hard, along with Pickles and Lin, to make this year’s decorations especially nice because they are hoping to win top prize in Mobile Homes and Gardens’ Christmas Decorations contest.
Rufus is their labor force to hang up the things they can’t reach. But in one of Betty’s asides, she laments not getting her beer-can menorah finished.
Just as they are getting the last of the decorations hung up, Darlene emerges from her trailer in her usual cantankerous mood. When she realizes that Rufus has added a splitter to her TV cable so he can mooch free television, she tries to take it apart.
But the electrical shock knocks her out and flips her mental attitude in the process. Her resistance to Rufus takes a turn, too. That is, until her boyfriend, Jackie Boudreaux (Steven Trigg), shows up.
A mixture of entrepreneur and conniver, Jackie owns the local pancake house, at which Betty, Pickles and Lin work, wearing aprons with pancake boobs on the front. Boudreaux also has plans for what he could do with the trailer-park land if he got his hands on it.
Needless to say, Darlene’s personality switches back and forth a couple of times, including alternating interest from Boudreaux to Rufus.
In one of the tender moments in the story, Darlene tells Rufus that he “sees beauty in things others look right through.” He’s also a treasure trove of redneck history.
Of course, there’s lots of often very funny singing, all of it delightfully accompanied by a four-musician band directed by Casey Maxwell.
A word of caution to language-sensitive playgoers: One of the central musical pieces is a kind of f-word anthem for the show.
Everyone in the cast of “Trailer Park” is terrific. Each gets his or her turn at very funny songs and knows how to get laughs.
“The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical” is a great recovery from Thanksgiving that will get your holiday season into the right spirit.
The play runs Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees, through Dec. 22. Additional information and tickets can be found here.