If you want to roll with lowlifes, bypass Super Summer Theatre’s terminally insipid *Oliver! Instead, floor it to The Great American Trailer Park Musical (Las Vegas Little Theatre), fun beyond description.
Domestic discord and tropical weather are raising the temperature within rural Florida’s Armadillo Acres, where the eighties never ended. It may be skanktastic — and feature the trashiest-looking cast imaginable — but it’s home, especially for Norbert (Scott Caster). The toll-taker’s eye is wandering because wife Jeannie (Kelly Ward) is agoraphobic and hasn’t set foot outside their trailer in 20 years. So when vagabond stripper Pippi (Caitlin Shea) rolls into the park, sparks begin to fly. But Pippi’s marker-sniffing, road-killing ex, Duke (Eric Wilson), is hot on her trail. Armadillo Acres’ most colorful denizens, though, are the trio of gossips — Betty (Jennifer King), Lin (Kim Glover) and ever-pregnant Pickles (Vicky Best) — who are its potty-mouthed Greek chorus: “Ren. Dez. Vous. That’s French fer fuckin’.”
Armadillo Acres’ populace, no matter how ridiculously it behaves, isn’t a bunch of losers, but rather small-time dreamers. Scenarist Betsy Kelso and composer/lyricist David Nehls clearly love even the borderline-deranged Duke unreservedly, as do director Troy Heard and his production team. Kelso’s rapid-fire zingers cue shapely song lyrics chockablock with hilarious pop-culture references. Nehls’ music has both irresistible propulsion and an easy melodic likeness to C&W classics that feels reassuringly familiar (and wholly organic) upon first hearing … especially “Storm A-brewin’,” Trailer Park’s showstopper.
Heard’s wraparound staging, expansive in heart and scope, beautifully serves the writing — given an extra kick by Toby McEvoy’s crack combo. Heard’s attention to detail also pervades David Sankuer’s comfy-cozy set. It’s rife with tchotkes and trailer-trash iconography like permanent Christmas lights, propane tanks, toilets as flowerpots and (yes) a pink flamingo. But it’s a warm, inviting abode. Likewise, Jerry Allen’s costuming is spectacular without garishness.
Aside from Shea’s case-hardened Pippi, the actors are across-the-board delightful. As singers, they’re a mixed bag. Clear standouts are King, with her spectacular range, sass and socko “belt” register, and sultry-voiced Glover, delivering her solos with soulful fervor. (Best’s tone is more mega-squeak than song, but does the job.) Wilson’s focused tone and pile-driving high notes also thrill, and Ward’s torchy stylings make Jeannie’s dysfunction endearing. Caster’s no singer but makes a loveable schlub nonetheless. Even the feathery, soft-sell delivery of Pippi’s valedictory anthem brings Shea 11th-hour redemption. More’s the pity LVLT’s aisles are too small for dancing.
THE GREAT AMERICAN TRAILER PARK MUSICAL Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m., Sunday, 2 p.m., through July 29; Las Vegas Little Theatre, 3920 Schiff Drive, 362-7996, $20-$25