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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Carte Blanche's Charming 'Trailer Park Musical'

Theater Review

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Carte Blanche Studios creates a cramped little trailer park to serve as home to an enjoyable, melodic evening for the presentation of Betsy Kelso and David Nehls' The Great American Trailer Park Musical. Director Jimmy Dragolovich orchestrates a sharp production that tastefully balances camp with real human emotion.

Kevin Embrik and Michelle White play Norbert and Jeannie, a married couple living in a trailer in current-day Florida. The production swiftly establishes the pair's meeting, marriage, parenthood and sudden loss of child. Following that traumatic loss, Jeannie has become agoraphobic; it's been years since she set foot outside the trailer. White has a sweet, endearing stage presence that forms a solid dynamic with Embrik's working-class charisma. They play trailer park stereotypes, but they add enough empathy and respect for an audience to emotionally engage with them. The rest of the cast takes this approach as well.

Conflict enters the trailer park in the form of an itinerant stripper named Pippi, played with near-perfection by the talented actress/singer/choreographer Samantha Paige. When Pippi moves into the park, she and Norbert fall for each other. Given the short amount of time the love affair has to develop onstage, the fact that it is believable at all says much about the emotional precision executed by Embrik and Paige. That the affair actually seems sweet and understandable registers as an impressive achievement for those two actors andWhite as well. Adding to the charm are Lisa Golda, Emily Craig and Kimber Gerber as a trailer park chorus.

The Great American Trailer Park Musical
runs through May 1 at Carte Blanche Studios, 1024 S. Fifth St. To reserve tickets, call (262) 716-4689.
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