Theater Review by Howard Steven Frydman
Production: THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
Written by: Matthew Lopez
Director: Rob Ruggiero
Shakespeare said it all when he proclaimed “The plays the thing” – meanwhile in the immortal words of Dame Edna Everage aka Barry Humphries, “Well hello possums— ya know a man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman must do what he can’t”. With a nod to both Willie S. and the Devine Miss E. now comes one heck of a gender-bender production that you will find both humorous and oh-so tender- TheaterWorks presents – in living technicolor “The Legend of Georgia McBride”.
Hot Heels, wigs and a fake eyelash wink to director Billy Wilder’s Tony Curtis and Jack Lemon in “Some Like It Hot”, Dustin Hoffman’s turn in Tootsie, Tyler Perry as “Madea” and Robin Williams as Mrs. Euphegenia Doubtfire – and now we valiantly introduce Miss Georgia McBride- a man on a journey of discovery- learning what a man has to do to pay the rent, keep his job, take care of his expectant wife, sing like Elvis, and even pay for a Pizza- and yes, reluctantly, – being schooled to portray a woman. In TheaterWorks newest production of Matthew Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride”, directed by Rob Ruggiero, witness the frantic fun results of one guy’s musical journey into womanhood – and let me tell you folks it’s a real DRAG!!!
Here’s your “oh aha moment”- D.R.A.G. – “Dressed As Girl” – our friend Willie S. again – in “Merrie Olde England”, actors in “The Bards” plays were all male with the youngest male performers portraying females in drag. For “Legend of Georgia McBride” folks are indeed in drag, add in a whale of a tale, shades of Déjà vu, about a courageous “straight” guy who finds himself boot high in troubles and finding his salvation as a Drag Queen Diva. As a son of the Golden Age of television, “Georgia McBride” actually reminds me of a sitcom from the 70’s & 80’s, think “Bosom Buddies” which made a star out of Tom Hanks, and Peter Kastner in “The Ugliest Girl in Town” – each with themes of the misadventures of young men, trying to find success working and ultimately seeking livelihood, via quirky situations, disguised as a woman. Speaking of Sitcoms, Jim Parsons who plays Sheldon in “The Big Bang Theory” is set to star in an upcoming film version of “The Legend of Georgia McBride”- as they say “the more things change, the more they stay the same”!
In “Legend” we are introduced to Casey, (Austin Thomas) a mediocre Elvis impersonator, young, straight, married to now-pregnant Jo (Samaria Nixon-Fleming) who soon finds himself out of work- only 6 folks came to watch him sing – what a “Hound Dog” of a dilemma! What’s a guy to do? Enter Drag Queen veteran Miss Tracy Mills (Jamison Stern) who has come to the aid of her cousin Eddie, (J.Tucker Smith) – “It’s me, your Cousin Bobby”, at his run down Florida bar – “Cleo’s”, replacing “Elvis”, bringing along her “larger than life” Drag Show” including saucy soul-sista “Miss Rexy” (Nik Alexander). Along the way, Miss Tracy also finds she has taken on the added role of teaching Casey how to be the star of the Drag Queens. A Legend is born. Hmmm- wouldn’t this set up make a great tv sitcom ?
Indeed, if this was a weekly tv series, it could run for years- love-able characters that tug at your heart. “Legend of Georgia McBride” is sensitive, smart and unequivocally charming. I do have to admit during many of the lip-singing sequences- I had a hard time guessing who they were imitating- I guess I’m getting too old to know today’s singing stars- but who cares, the singing dub was delightful and set the audience to cheering. Major kudos go out to the entire cast including our Drag star in training Austin Thomas, a five star “Hello Possum” salute to our delightful Miss Tracy as portrayed by Jamison Stern and a big “Howard Noticed You” Award to Nik Alexander – ya stole the show and you know it!! An exciting production that is not to be missed- Pure entertainment- as only Hartford’s TheaterWorks can do! Enjoy!
“The Legend of Georgia McBride“ is currently being produced at TheaterWorks, City Arts on Pearl, 233 Pearl Street, Hartford, CT. For tickets or info call TheaterWorks at 860.527.7838. Run Dates: March 16th through April 22nd, 2018.
Howard Steven Frydman is General Manager and Executive Director of BATV – Channels 5, 95 & 96 and a member of the CCC. Please feel free to contact Mr. Frydman with your thoughts and ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.