The wordy, unwieldy title of “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical” tells you pretty much everything you need to know about the show: It’s an unruly, trashy, cartoonish, unapologetically ribald holiday comedy. It’s an ode to folding lawn chairs, crushed beer cans and Nativity scenes rounded out by rogue Halloween decorations.
The show, which opens this weekend at the Modern Theater Coeur d’Alene, is the sequel to “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” both written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso. (The Modern, back when it was known as Lake City Playhouse, presented the original during its 2014 season.) Bassett also choreographed the first “Trailer Park” production, and she said a foreknowledge of the characters and settings isn’t required to enjoy the sequel.
“You definitely don’t have to have seen it,” Bassett said. “We set up the show really well. These characters are relatable and you can jump right in with them. But if you saw the first show, you’ll get some little jokes that other people might not get.”
“Christmas Musical” returns us to Armadillo Acres, the dysfunctional North Florida trailer park from the first show. A trio of characters from the original return – Betty (Callie McKinney Cabe), Pickles (Amber Fiedler) and Lin (Charisa Bareither, reprising her role from the original production) – and, as in the predecessor, they serve as a Greek chorus, commenting on and even manipulating the story.
Half of the original show’s characters have split – after all, there’s a high turnover rate at Armadillo Acres – and the sequel’s new group of self-professed rednecks include Rufus (Shawn Hunt), Jackson (Doug Dawson) and the unfortunately named Darlene Seward (Teri Grubbs).
The park’s denizens are expecting a visit from a rag called “Mobile Homes and Gardens,” which is conducting a holiday decoration competition that they’re hoping to win. Darlene is the trailer park Scrooge, and she refuses to participate in the contest, but an electric shock from a tangled string of Christmas lights gives her a convenient case of amnesia.
Much of the appeal of “The Great American Trailer Park Christmas Musical” depends on the energy and chemistry of the ensemble cast, and Bassett said her actors have thrown themselves into their roles.
“The six of them together work so well,” Bassett said. “They’ve really jumped into this as a team, and they’re really funny the way they play off each other. This kind of show allows for bits of improv chitter-chatter between everything. … I think that bantering shows how much they understand their characters and how comfortable they feel with each other and the material.”
Despite its adult content, Bassett said the show has a big heart, and it’s as much about the idealism and sentimentalism surrounding Christmastime as it is depravity and debauchery.
“It’s not something you’d bring little children to,” she said. “But the characters themselves love Christmas so much, so they really express those old-fashioned, sentimental aspects while they’re experiencing craziness.”