By Dee Jae Cox
Red Neck humor can be very funny. I’ve got relatives in Florida and West Virginia and I’m definitely related to a few bubbas who make me smile. Bill Engvall, (here’s your sign,) is one of my favorite comedians. But there are just some attempts at humor that cross a line even most White Trash aficionados would find tasteless and crass. Sadly that is the case with “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical,” currently in production at Desert TheatreWorks in Indio.
While the show does manage to offer up some witty one-liners, Betsy Kelso’s book and David Nehls Music and Lyrics, are just floundering juvenile high school attempts at humor. The only saving grace for this show is the cast who manages to form a cohesive ensemble and has the talent to rise above the bottom feeding script.
Trailer Park Christmas, loosely draws its plot from Dickens’, A Christmas Carol and its hick characters from Armadillo Acres Trailer Park in Florida, where the December temperature hits 102 and all the inhabitants eagerly compete in the Mobile Home and Gardens, annual Christmas decorating pageant. Betty, (Rebecca Hertsgaard) Linoleum, (Heidi Hapner) and Pickle, (Christine Michelle) open the show with tacky decorated mobile homes and high hopes for breaking the Armadillo Acres Christmas Curse and winning the pageant.
All of the park residents seem to be getting in the holiday spirit except Darlene Seward, (Alisha Bates.) Bates is certainly the highlight of this production. She’s an exceptional actress and singer and shines in her role as the community’s Scrooge, who hates the holidays and refuses to adorn her trailer. When she unplugs the illegal cable-stealing wire of her next-door neighbor Rufus (Adam Genesta), the shock erases her memory and Christmas-miracles her into a lovable Saint.
Darlene celebrates the twelve days before Christmas with amnesia and gives everyone else a glimmer of who she used to be before the ‘Christmas of the near past’ reveals the tragedy that struck her one Christmas eve. Rufus falls in love with the new and improved Darlene, but suffers heartbreak when Darlene’s memory returns. Genesta has a wonderful voice and his drunk Santa rendition of “Black and Blue on Christmas Eve,” was heartfelt and sympathetic.
Desert TheatreWorks has a history of quality and entertaining theatre, I look forward to their upcoming productions.
“The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical,” can be seen through December 17th, at The Indio Performing Arts Center, located at 45175 Fargo Street, Indio, CA.
For show and ticket information: http://www.dtworks.org/
Dee Jae Cox is a playwright, director and producer. She is the Cofounder and Artistic Director for The Los Angeles Women’s Theatre Project www.californiawoman411.com.