Bad Taste, Good Time at Trailer Park Christmas Musical
Sara Shelby-Martin, Cara Statham Serber, Megan Kelly Bates (front) with Amanda Passanante and Tony Daussat (back) in The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical at WaterTower.
Karen Almond Photography
If you have soured on The Nutcracker or are humbugged by too many Christmas Carols, pull into The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical, now onstage at WaterTower Theatre in Addison. It's a hot mug of sassy-crass tea, two hours of low comedy with a high-caliber cast.
Christmas season has arrived at Armadillo Acres, a swampy clump of rusty RV's that may or may not be squatting illegally somewhere in Florida. A nasty feud has erupted between half of the trailer park's residents, who have decorated their "manufactured homes" with plastic baubles and Star Wars-themed nativity scenes, and the local Scrooge, a meanie named Darlene Seward (Amanda Passanante), whose last name is pronounced "C-word." (The down-and-dirty script by Betsy Kelso and lyrics by David Nehls recycle trashy wordplay throughout the show. It's def R-rated. Do not bring the kiddies or sensitive elders to this one.)
When a loose wire sends enough volts through Darlene to light up death row, she switches to loving all things yule. She also has a change of heart about her bully of a boyfriend, Jackson (Greg Hullett), proprietor of a Hooters-like pancake house called Stacks. During her 12 days of amnesia, she falls for scruffy neighbor Rufus (Tony Daussat, doing a cuddly Jack Black thing) sparking a tinsel-wrapped tussle for who'll come out on top. Of Darlene.
The musical's three narrators are the same lead characters from The Great American Trailer Park Musical: Betty (Sara Shelby-Martin), Pickles (Megan Kelly Bates) and Lin (Cara Statham Serber), short for the "Linoleum" on which she was conceived. They are toothy, big-haired stand-ins for Dickens' trio of Christmas spirits, now dressed like Wal-Mart shoppers as they show Darlene her past, present and future. Don't bother trying to make sense of the plot. "That's the beauty of a dream sequence," snaps Pickles. "We don't have to explain that shit."
Director James Lemons, musical director Mark Mullino and the design team keep the emphasis on fun -- every minute is loud, silly and unapologetically in-your-face. The first act ends with an upbeat ditty called "Fuck It, It's Christmas." The second act features the ballad "Black and Blue on Christmas Eve."
Scenery by Rodney Dobbs appears to have been inspired by Pinterest boards of holiday decor in women's prisons (check out the ornaments made from detergent bottles). Costumes by Derek Whitener put the ladies in some of the ugliest combinations of animal prints, big florals and garish neons ever worn outside of backwoods whorehouses. Armadillo Acres is where fashion roadkill reigns, and it's delightful.
The cast jingle-bell-rocks the socks off every dirty lyric, fart joke and pop culture reference. If the second act feels too talky, it's because the singing is so good. Serber, Shelby-Martin and Bates aren't just three of the best belters on Dallas stages; they're among the funniest musical comedy divas, too. Passanante, a regular on Houston stages, is like a broader Anna Kendrick (star of the new Into the Woods movie) with heaps more confidence.
This show fits its cast like a dollar store camouflage-print Snuggie.
The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical continues through January 4 at WaterTower Theatre, 15650 Addison Road, Addison., $35-$45, 972-450-6232. (No performances December 24, 25, 31 or January 1.)
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