‘The Great American Trailer Park Musical’ Comes to Miner Alleys Playhouse

There’s a new tenant at Armadillo Acres, and she’s wreaking havoc all over Florida’s most exclusive trailer park!

The Great American Trailer Park Musical, a two-act production written by David Nehls and Betsy Kelso, is currently playing at Miners Alley Playhouse in Golden through March 5. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursday – Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Featuring a cast full of Colorado theater staples, including Nehls as musical director, this updated version will keep your toes tappin’ all the way to the Piggly Wiggly. Following Jeanie (Abby Apple Boes), an agoraphobic, reality television fan, her tollbooth collector husband Norbert (Rory Pierce), and Pippi (Norrell Moore), a stripper on the run, the collision of these three people makes for a stormy situation that is both laugh-out-loud funny and moving.

Nehls took some time to chat with OFM about the show, its origins, and how it’s still resonating with audiences.

For those who have never seen The Great American Trailer Park Musical, what makes it worth checking out?

Several things! Especially with the situations that we’ve lived through these past couple of years, it’s an opportunity to laugh, and I think laughter is the most healing medicine we can ever have. We’ve been so mired in politics and the disruptions of what this pandemic brought, so the chance to see a show where you can laugh and have a great time, I would say, is the biggest thing. The other thing is, we have one of the best casts with some of the best talent Denver has to offer. The show represents so many walks of life; it speaks to everybody, and it makes fun of everybody. Everybody is a target.

Great American Trailer Park

Nobody’s left behind.

Yes, exactly. Wasn’t that nice of us? (Laughs). And it was written during the time when South Park first came onto the scene, and it has that same energy.

The show is still connecting with audiences after all these years?

Weirdly! We were still getting royalties during the pandemic. I don’t know who was producing it, but I was thrilled that they were, and I was thrilled that it could bring joy to some people. The show is a joyous event.

As the production’s original composer and lyricist, how did The Great American Trailer Park Musical initially come to fruition?

Betsy Kelso and I were actors, and we were touring in Europe with The Rocky Horror Show. We were in the original company, and I was Riff Raff, and she was the swing. After about six months, she got bumped up to Magenta. She also did a lot of sketch comedy in New York, whereas I had done a lot of cabaret shows in New York. We just started writing shit on the bus, and we actually wrote a show that was the most stupid thing ever. We’ve stolen music from it for The Great American Trailer Park Christmas sequel.

After our leg with Rocky Horror, I was putting together a cabaret show for Don’t Tell Mama NYC, and I had a drag character at the time named Ida Ho. I’ve had a couple of very successful shows at Don’t Tell Mama, and I was looking for the next one. I wanted to do it in a trailer park, so I wrote this kind of outline and a couple of songs, but I was going to pepper it with popular songs. However, the more I delved into it, I was like, wait a minute, I have a lot of music I can do for this.

I asked Betsy if she wanted to write a book for this, and she said absolutely not, but then I said, look, here’s the songs. Just bridge them. Within three days, we had our first draft, and the first time we presented it was during a reading at Sanford Meisner Theatre in 1998.

Great American Trailer Park

And it took off from there.

Well, I wouldn’t say took off (laughs). It limped along from there, and it had a long history until its Off-Broadway debut in 2005. We had producers that absconded to Africa; we had a producer who unfortunately died, so it was wild. There were a lot of ups and downs. A lot of interesting situations, and we had a lot of fantastic people that came through our casting. Local actress Sheryl McCallum was one of our original Linoleums in the 90s.

It’s really been a hell of a ride, and we were very fortunate to do the New York Musical Festival (NYMF) in 2004, which then brought us to the attention of Jean Doumanian and Jeffrey Richards, who are huge producers. You walk into Jean’s office, and there’s, like, her Emmy, her Oscar, a picture of her with Bill Clinton—it was intense, but we are very fortunate that the show has resonated all the years.

As you said, you hope the show makes people laugh, but what else do you ultimately hope audiences take away from it?

The music! I’m going to be honest with you, I have not even looked at this show in 15 years. I haven’t listened to it, touched it, read it, watched it, nothing. So, I’m kind of approaching it as I would any other musical director project out here. It sounds really selfish, but I’m falling in love with the music, and I freaking wrote it in my New York City apartment back in the day.

I’m looking at it as if a complete stranger had written it, and I’m so proud of it. I’m proud of how these actors are committing, and they’re glomming onto these little gems that are in the music. They’re very hummable tunes, so I hope people walk away going, oh, boy. I like that music.

Is there a scene or a moment from the show that is your absolute favorite?

I would say the end of Act I. The whole cast is in a number called Storm’s A-Brewin’, in which we pay homage to The Weather Girls. It’s silly, stupid, a bit ridiculous, and it brings down the house. I’ve never seen it not. I love playing it. It’s an old-school, 80s disco song that is unabashed.

Great American Trailer Park

Have any major tweaks or changes been made to the show over the years?

Yes, because there are things in 2005 that we thought were hilarious that people these days won’t find so funny. We’re doing a little dusting. There are some mean-spirited moments that take shots at people like Britney Spears and Whitney Houston, and that’s not funny anymore. So, we’re trying to make it a little more evergreen, but we don’t want to take the non-PC comedy out of it.

It still needs to be outrageous. It’s a play about a stripper having an affair with a toll collector whose wife is agoraphobic. It’s got to be outrageous; otherwise it’s not successful. But there are things that are triggering these days that just have to go. We see that, so we’re just doing a little cleaning.

What are some future goals you hope The Great American Trailer Park Musical achieves in the next couple years?

A Netflix movie would be nice! Starring Will Ferrell, Melissa McCarthy, and Pink (laughs). Seriously though, my hope for The Great American Trailer Park Musical is that it keeps going on the course that it is. For almost 17 years now, it’s been in the ether, and people are doing it all the time. I love that we’re now at a place where a new generation is discovering it. People who did it back in the day when it first came out, those theaters are now reviving it because it made so much money for them back then. We need money now, so they’re dusting off all their big hits, and it’s gratifying to see younger people who know it and are excited by it.

Before we wrap up, are there any other upcoming projects or anything else you’d like to mention or plug?

The pandemic was very fruitful for me, so I did a lot of writing. I had a show that I wrote with my friend Paul Pecorino, who was also on that Rocky Horror tour, and it’s called Had It Blue. We did a production of it at the New York Theater Festival, and it won Best Production for 2022, which was great. Then I’ll be working with the Arvada Center in the spring for Damn Yankees, and that’s very exciting for me.

I’ve been away from there for six years, and I was their resident for 14 years, so going back there for Damn Yankees is going to be a fun time. Then I’ll be down at The Galleria for a show that we haven’t announced yet, but it’s another show that was written during the pandemic, and that will be coming up in the summer.

Great American Trailer Park

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit Stay up-to-date with The Great American Trailer Park Musical by visiting, and connect with Nehls by visiting

Photos courtesy of Sarah Roshan

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