Stage Notes is a weekly aggregate post about theater, classical music and stage news, events, reviews and other pertinent information.
Opening this week:
Broadway at the Bass: Jagged Little Pill, Sept. 15-17.
Review: Lyric Stage gets hilariously edgy with new musical in a new space
Lyric Stage consistently produces high-quality musicals at the Majestic Theatre. The company has a strong pool of talen for its well-crafted productions. But it’s fair to say that commitment to quality sometimes leads the company to play it somewhat safe-ish. Certainly nothing wrong with that, but its newest venture was a splendid surprise reminding audiences that Lyric still has the ability to take risks.
Lyric Stage’s newest production of The Great American Trailer Park Musical, by Betsy Kelso and David Nehls, was bawdy and audacious. The show was full of sass and hilarity, with plenty of jokes and a chaotic story of colorful characters. Director/choreographer Brandon Mason turned the show all that into a comedic sensation at opening night last Friday.
Lyric was shooting on all cylinders here. The technical aspects were marvelous from Scott Guenther’s lighting effects to Breianna Barrington’s costuming. Michael B. Moore’s wigs were wonderfully outlandish and Spencer Meador’s scenic design gave eye candy for days. Music director Hans Grim and the Trailer Park Band were bringing just-right twangy vibes to the trailer park setting.
What sold the show was a cast invested into the characters. Purposely over the top, the actors hit their comedy marks with ease. Pickles (Pamela Anglero), Betty (Samantha Padilla) and Linoleum (Cara Serber) was Trailer Park’s Greek chorus with outrageous costumes and songs. The troika of actors nailed their individual characteristics. Padilla was brash and bold; Serber mixed street smarts with misguided love and Anglero had the ideal brassy attitude as the immaculately pregnant teen.
Greg Hullett’s Norbert was the most understated if one can say that about this show. A loving husband to Jeannie (Mary Gilbreath Grim) as well as loving boyfriend to Pippi (Alena Cardenez), Hullett gave good guy energy while leaning into the show’s humor and then served up some nice sweet dance moves and vocals. As an agoraphobic, Grim gave a strong physical performance with a powerhouse voice. Cardenez gave Pippi, the stripper with a heart, played her character with a confident stride rather than a woman getting by on her looks and body all with some Ariana Grande vibes. As the gun-toting, marker-sniffing ex-boyfriend Duke, Ben Ashcraft was on a high 10 but maybe could have dialed it down to an eight. That didn’t deter from a crazed performance that kept all eyes on him.
Of course, what added to the enjoyment of the show was Lyric debuting its new studio space. For a black box, the space was extensive and certainly versatile. The vast set filled up the middle of the venue while the audience filled up the seats on each side to what looked like a sold out crowd having the audience shift around to fill all the seats. Although tucked away deep into the Design District — it’s almost like a treasure hunt to find the place — Lyric will have exciting options in the new studio and roomy lobby.
With the title alone, the only thing to expect from The Great American Trailer Park Musical is a damn good time.
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