Georgia McBride. Never heard of her? Neither did I – until Matthew Lopez’s imagination decided to document her rise to stardom from Elvis impersonator in a seedy Florida dive in downtown Panama City, Florida to morphing into a drag diva in this genuinely entertaining, flamboyant and honest to goodness heartfelt play with music running at the Lucille Lortel Theatre through October 11th.
She is a he – Casey (a wonderful transformative Dave Thomas Brown) a straight guy down and almost out and broke. Trying to make ends meet with his waitress wife Jo (Afton Williamson) whom he adores and just happens to be pregnant.
Casey’s Elvis act is not generating any business much to the dismay of bar owner Eddie (Wayne Duvall) and so he recruits the services of his dressed to impress cousin Tracy (an astounding Matt McGrath) who performs in drag, lip-synching to tunes made famous by real women while wearing colorful gowns and wigs with his mostly drunken and tart tongued partner Rexy (Keith Nobbs) relegating Casey to tend bar. We root for him and them – all the way.
When a soused Rexy can’t go on – Casey is enlisted to don Edith Piaf drag. And right before our amazed eyes, in true Broadway tradition – the show does go on. With the help of a great on stage crew Casey is transformed – many times over into Georgia McBride who becomes a bar favorite. The newfangled act turns into a very profitable enterprise to everyone’s surprise.
The finely tuned, clockwork direction by Mike Donahue, the exciting choreography by Paul McGill, the big-air wigs by Jason Hayes, the over-the-top costumes by Anita Yavich, lighting design by Ban Stanton, sound design by Jill BC Du Boff and the detailed all-purpose set (Donyale Werle) make this show a hoot and a half. However, the musical numbers could benefit from a nip and tuck here and there.
So very well constructed by Mr. Lopez you might not at first catch that Keith Nobbs doubles as Rexy and Jason – friend and landlord to Casey and Jo. You’ve never seen so many costume changes nor enjoyed so many laughs, nor been impressed by the versatility of each actor as Casey faces the fact that he thoroughly enjoys finding his inner drag persona while keeping it all a secret from his wife until…
The Legend of Georgia McBride is sure to become one.
No intermission. Love conquers all.
Photos: Joan Marcus
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