Kitchen Table Talk

Sherri Gardner HowellFarragut

The first time I saw anything on stage other than a beauty pageant or a play produced by high school seniors, I was a freshman at the University of Tennessee.

It was a Clarence Brown Theatre production of “1776.” I was mesmerized, and I was hooked on live theater. I know I saw every CBT production for the rest of my UT school days and many of the productions at Carousel Theatre. I went to Abingdon to the Barter Theatre, to Cherokee for “Unto These Hills,” to Gatlinburg for a performance at Hunter Hills and to Laurel Theater to watch a community troupe called The Play Group anytime they took the stage.

If I could find a play and afford it, I was there.

Neville and I had our first date at Westside Dinner Theater. I took my kids to every live performance I could finagle. When Broadway at the Tennessee debuted, I bought season tickets no matter what the productions were.

I was so moved when I walked through the theater district in New York on my first trip there in 2012 that I had a moment like Vivian at the opera in “Pretty Woman.”

Last week I sat in a new theater in Rocky Hill and watched a community theater group called The Flying Anvil debut their first production in their spiffy new space. It was a play I knew nothing about, but John Cherry had a starring role in it, and David Dwyer was on the board and promoting it. With those recommendations, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. I convinced friends John and Linda Hageman and husband Neville to come along.

Oh my gosh. “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” – a show the New York Sun called “South Park meets Desperate Housewives” — was so much fun that I didn’t want it to end. I laughed out loud with knee-slapping, full belly laughs. The last soliloquy song from Pippi, the “on-the-run stripper,” had me guffawing and repeating the “make like a nail” tagline for days.

The play tells the story of the residents of a trailer park in north Florida called Armadillo Acres. With characters that include a young woman with hysterical pregnancy, a kleptomaniac, an agoraphobic, a stripper and a tollbooth collector and plot lines of adultery, a prison’s broken electric chair and a kidnapped baby – well, what’s not to love!

The residents of Armadillo Acres will be sharing their trials and tribulations on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. through Aug. 20. Tickets range from $22 to $26.


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