Monday, March 26, 2018

CT Theater Review: The Legend of Georgia McBride -- TheaterWorks

Austin Thomas and Jamison Stern. Photo: Lanny Nagler.
The Legend of Georgia McBride
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Rob Ruggiero
Choreography by Ralph Perkins
Through April 22
TheaterWorks

By Lauren Yarger
A washed-up Elvis impersonator finds himself as a drag queen performer in this play with music from The Whipping Man playwright Matthew Lopez getting a run at TheaterWorks.

Casey(Austin Thomas) and his wife, Jo (Samaria Nixon-Fleming) are trying to get by on her waitress tips and what he earns as an Elvis impersonator at Cleo's, a dive nightclub run by Eddie (J. Tucker Smith) in the Florida Panhandle. Just when they find out they are expecting, Casey finds out that Eddie is replacing him with a drag-queen act headlined by Miss Tracey Mills (Jamison Stern) and Rexy -- short for Anorexia Nervosa -- (Nik Alexander, who also doubles as the couple's landlord, Jason, who is about to evict them for not paying the rent).

Casey is given the option of bar tending to earn a few bucks, but when Rexy gets drunk and can't go on, Tracey gives Casey a quick how-to in drag queen lip syncing and a star is born. Well, it actually takes some practice and Director Rob Ruggiero expertly captures humor and growth during this sequence, and suddenly Rexy is out and Tracey and her new creation -- Georgia McBride -- are packing them in at Cleo's. There is one problem, though, Casey hasn't told Jo how he's really making a living. Is it because he is embarrassed, or because he is enjoying his new persona too much?

Part of the evening's entertainment (runt time is one hour and 45 minutes without intermission) includes a lengthy drag queen show brought to life by Choreography by Ralph Perkins and Paul Tate dePoo III's set design (it moves quickly from backstage at the club to Casey and Jo's apartment to center stage) lighted by the always excellent John Lasiter. Special kudos go to Costume Designer Leon Dobkowski and Wig Designer Mark Adam Rampmeyer, who create many looks for the guys dressing as gals.

Georgia McBride works on becoming a legend at TheaterWorks,  233 Pearl St., Hartford. The theater warns this show is for ages 14 and up. Performances are Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 7:30 pm, Friday and Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $45-$70: theaterworkshartford.org.

Additional credit:
Assistant Director, Eric Ort; Sound Design, Ed Chapman.

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Lauren Yarger with playwright Alfred Uhry at the Mark Twain House. Photo: Jacques Lamarre)

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