“The Legend Of Georgia McBride”
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Russell Garrett
Greater Boston Stage, Stoneham, MA
Through May 20
Reviewed by Bobby Franklin
In The Legend of Georgia McBride, Casey (Jared Reinfeldt) is an Elvis impersonator whose career is hardly on the road to Vegas. Working at Cleo’s Bar on the Beach in Panama City, Florida before sparse audiences he is finding it difficult to pay the rent for the apartment he shares with his pregnant wife Jo (Jade Guerra). The landlord, Jason (Alex Pollock), has come knocking and they are on the verge of eviction.
Eddie (Ed Peed), the owner of Cleo’s is also having trouble making ends meet and has made the decision to try out a new act comprised of two female impersonators comprised of Miss Tracy Mills (Rick Park) and Rexy (also Alex Pollock). This leaves Casey demoted to working as a bartender, his dreams of Elvis gold dashed.
Ah, but in true A Star Is Born fashion, one night Rexy shows up too drunk to perform, and with a full house waiting to be entertained, Casey is talked into taking her place. This he does reluctantly as Tracy transforms him into drag. He overcomes his awkwardness by looking at it as playing it as if he were taking on any role he might appear in in theatre.
This may all sound rather simplistic, but what unfolds is a very charming and enjoyable play with some underlying, though not terribly deep messages. With the exception of one song, all of the music is lip-synced. The scene where Casey is first dressed to perform in drag is interesting to witness. It is quite the transformation. His first number is to be Edith Piaf’s Padam, Padam. Of course, he does not know the lyrics so Tracy gives him a pointer about mouthing a certain expletive in order to fake it. There is also some fun with choosing a stage name for Casey. A couple of the many suggestions include Tequila Mockingbird and Sharia Law, before settling on Georgia McBride. The formula used for this is something you might want to try for the fun of it.
Things work out as you may expect. Casey goes on to become a big hit. Rexy returns angry at what has happened. Her speech about the struggles she and so many other gay men have dealt with over the years is filled with anger and rebellion while also quite moving without turning into a lecture. The words make an important point while not diminishing the fun taking place on the stage in Stoneham.
Ed Peed comes close to stealing the show with his excellent portrayal of the crusty bar owner Eddie who goes from awkward M.C. to being quite the ham. While not taking the drag route, we do see his transformation as well.
Jade Guerra has wonderful presence playing Casey’s wife who has been kept in the dark about his new career path. It is quite the emotional roller coaster and she conveys those feelings well. Jade is also quite impressive in one of the musical numbers.
Alex Pollack’s Rexy is edgy and intense. The first instinct is to not like her, but she earns respect and understanding in the course of the play. Pollack is also wonderful as Jason, Casey’s landlord. He provides quite a few laughs.
There are many musical numbers that kept the audience in attendance the afternoon I was there more than happy. Rick Park’s Tracy as Carmen Miranda was quite the spectacle, bananas and all. The duet with two Nancy Sinatras and their boots a walking featuring Georgia and Miss Tracy was another treat.
It is unclear at the end whether or not Casey continues to see performing in drag as just a role he is playing or has found some deeper meaning from listening to Rexy, but it does make good food for thought.
The Legend of Georgia McBride is an enjoyable and mostly lighthearted work. I think you will find it worth the trip to Stoneham.
One reminder. While not gratuitous, there is some pretty salty language and adult themes that may not be suitable for younger ears.