BWW Review: THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE at GableStage
"Tits Up and Testicles Tucked"
If you know what that phrase means you're either a drag queen or you got really lucky and watched the opening night of THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE at Miami's GableStage.
The book: straight guy loses job as Elvis impersonator, has no money, knocks up his wife, can't pay his rent, is offered work as a drag queen and accepts. Now throw the book away. Not needed.
From lights up and Clay Cartland, as Casey, ripping off Elvis better than the real thing, Tom Wahl as Miss Tracy Mills, aging drag queen who's done everything and everybody and has the wisdom to prove it, and Sean Patrick Doyle as Rexy, bitterly alcoholic second banana to Miss Tracy Mills, the show is essentially a brilliantly performed evening of lip synching drag.
It's Cleo's Bar, a dive on the beach in Panama City, Florida, and owner Eddie, (Dave Corey), a shambling, long haired, bearded almost failure, is ready to toast his bankruptcy with his last bottle of champagne. His star turn is Casey, Elvis for the uninterested seven drinkers left in the room. Eddie demotes Casey to bartender, replacing him with Miss Tracy Mills and Rexy, so far down on their luck that road kill books better joints. And Rexy gets drunk, passes out on stage, and splits.
Casey, as straight as a virgin great aunt pressing flowers in a bible, is offered Rexy's act. He's appalled, until Eddie threatens and Miss Tracy Mills cajoles, and he sees the light of dragdom.
Cartland is forced on stage unprepared and is marvelous as he mouths the maternal obscenity used to fake forgotten lyrics. Stage fright is redefined. And the acerbic Wahl forces him out and out and out again and then, fairy dust adrift in the rafters, Georgia McBride is born. Miss Tracy Mills has a new partner and the rent is paid.
The book sneaks back in as Jo, Casey's heavily pregnant wife, (Jade Wheeler) discovers that Casey is working as Georgia instead of a barman. Of course she throws him out of their little apartment for lying by omission, ignoring the advice of Casey's long time friend and now paid landlord, Jason. (Sean Patrick Doyle in an excellent transition from Rexy).
Now homeless, Casey totes his Georgia suitcase back to Cleo's Bar where Rexy, sober, dresses for his act. And here's a beautifully acted serious moment in the show as Rexy reveals his secrets.
Ellis Tillman's outrageously exotic costumes are changed as fast as the three dressers backstage can rip velcro as scene after scene flies backstage and on stage at Cleo's, and in Casey and Jo's apartment all designed by Lyle Baskin. Lighting by Steve Welsh and sound/music by Matt Corey. Sean Patrick Doyle is the dance captain.
Artistic director Joseph Adler and choreographer Julie Kleiner have taken a sketchy story and presented a ninety minute show that's wonderfully funny and has dancing and singing and music and Barbara Streisand and Liza Minelli and Cindi Lauper and Cher and Dolly Parton and Carmen Miranda and more, and of course, Georgia McBride.
If you've never seen a drag show, or if you have, or even better, if you've starred in one, you'll love THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE at GableStage.
Playing through June 25 at GableStage, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables, FL. 305-445-1119
Credit: George Schiavone