THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE

Reviewed by Stephen Radosh

 

If you’re an Elvis Impersonator who is broke and just lost his job and finds out that your wife is pregnant, what do you do?  You become a Drag Queen and all will be well!  That, in a nutshell, is the story arc of THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE, the very funny, if somewhat unrealistic sitcom-like comedy by Matthew Lopez, now being presented as the first production of the 10th anniversary season of Dezart Performs. 

After losing his job as a lip-synching Elvis Impersonator at Panama City’s Cleo’s Bar in the Florida panhandle, Casey (Sean Timothy Brown) goes home only to learn that because he bought a pizza with his debit card, the rent check has bounced.  Ever optimistic, he promises his wife, Jo (Brianna Maloney), that things will work out.  Moments later, pregnancy test in hand, she returns to the living room announcing she is pregnant.

“We are going to be the best parents since Joseph and Mary,” Casey says.

“Yeah, but then their kid died,” Jo fires back at him.

Salvation appears in the guise of a smartly dressed drag queen named Tracy Mills (Michael Mullen) and her perpetually on edge sidekick, Anorexia Nervosa (Hanz Enyeart)  or Rexy for short.  In a desperate move to boost his sagging business, Eddie (Chet Cole), the bar’s owner and cousin to Tracy, decides that Elvis is out and Drag is in.  In pure Busby Berkley musical style, Rexy passes out before her big Edith Piaf number and Casey is persuaded to take her spot and save the show.  His first number begins with a terrified Casey who, by the time the song ends, has discovered his inner drag queen and takes full command of the spotlight.  Without a word of dialogue and only Casey’s dubious lip-synching performance, Sean Timothy Brown makes it one of the most genuinely funny moments in the play.  So true to the nature of such stories, Casey goes out there a nervous straight man in a dress and comes back a star!

Despite Casey having doubts as to his future in heels as Georgia McBride, Tracey convinces him to keep going and with her knowledge and mentoring of all things drag, Casey, or rather Georgia, becomes a hit and the money starts rolling in!  There’s a slight bump in the road when Jo finds out that her husband has been performing in drag but this is quickly smoothed out and everyone and everything end up happily ever after.

Everyone gets their share of laughs but the lion’s share goes to Mr. Mullen’s Tracy.  He has spot on timing whether he is trading bitchy quips with Rexy or waxing eloquently on the way of the world with lines like “Every man has some femininity, you just gotta know where to look.”  With his performance, he also manages to give a heartfelt look behind the mask Tracy wears and gives us an understanding of what makes Tracy tick.

There is not a lot of depth to the play and the author rarely delves below its glossy surface to examine any of the issues the situation provides.  But, as directed by Michael Shaw, the play does have a warm and gentle heart and enough bitchy one liners, musical numbers and jokes to keep it airborne and make it a real audience pleaser.
THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE runs through Nov. 12, 2017.  For more information, go to www.dezartperforms.org