White trash rules in the new off-Broadway show The Great American Trailer Park Musical that takes place entirely on the wrong side of the tracks in Armadillo Acres, a mobile home park in Starke, FL. However, set designer Derek McLane admits that he doesn't think he's been entirely fair to trailer parks. “Most actual trailer parks are pretty tasteful and I didn't see any that looked like the one I created,” he admits. “Even rundown trailer parks are nicer!” He added that most 21st century trailers are boxy, big, and bland. “I may have taken a few too many liberties but if it was more realistic, it wouldn't have been as much fun. Sometimes it's better to not be totally exact about these things.”
The six trailers he created are anything but bland and boxy and he drew more from designs of trailers from the 1950s and 1960s that had unique shapes of the period and used a variety of colors and more stylish facades. McLane says that the biggest challenge was the space at Dodger Stages. “It was a nightmare,” he says. “There is no space so two of the trailers — in the corner — are just facades and the ones that do open up are only about 5' deep.” The two that do open reveal the home of Norbert and Jeannie on one side and the strip club The Litter Box on the other. As expected both of these worlds collide in ways that would make Jerry Springer — or at least his audience — green with envy.
With past duties designing such shows as Little Women: The Musical, I am My Own Wife, and The Women, with Lestat on the horizon, McLane admits he had a ball designing something that was a bit more silly. While he did not get to use some other details he had originally wanted — pink flamingoes, lawn gnomes and the ilk — he does have a preference for one small flourish that is prevalent and one of the most realistic aspects of the set. “My favorite detail are the satellite dishes on every trailer all pointing up to the exact same spot in heaven,” he says.