Phoenix Theatre Kicks Off New Season With THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA MCBRIDE
One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, now go Queens go! The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez packs a glittery punch as it explores the sassy world of drag queens in a forgotten bar in Panama City Beach, Florida. Crowds come out in droves to see Miss Tracy Mills, Anorexia Nervosa, and the newest high-heel-wearing-wonder Georgia McBride as they lip-synch their way through Judy Garland, Emmylou Harris, and Aretha Franklin.
This regional premiere features a number of new faces at Phoenix. Sam C. Jones from Sacramento, CA, leads the production as the title character. Jones' two turns as Elvis in the hugely popular Million Dollar Quartet prepared him well for the Elvis-impersonator Casey who later becomes the titular legend herself. As an inspiring singer/songwriter, Jones' musical prowess lends itself well to the bravado of drag performance. He shines-literally, with all those sequins-in this comic romp, finding both heart and acceptance in unexpected places. Jonathan Studdard, well-known to Civic Theatre fans, joins the cast as Miss Anorexia Nervosa, for whom drag is life. At times volatile and unpredictable, Rexy is never afraid of speaking her mind and serving shade. Studdard embodies the role fully, finding a determination and strength in the character that can't be denied. With unforgettable one liners and fierce drag moves, Studdard makes his mark in this production.
Phoenix fans will be delighted to see John Vessels return to the stage as Miss Tracy Mills, a legend in her own right. Vessels was last seen at Phoenix in the sell-out production of Bright Star and regularly performs with Actors Theatre of Indiana and Beef & Boards. His meticulous and incredible character work gleams in Georgia McBride, showcasing at once his comedic expertise and incomparable stage presence. A savvy drag performer himself-with a handful of shows featuring his character Lillian Baxter, written and produced with his partner and Ball State professor Jay Schwandt-Vessels is well worth the price of admission.
Bridgette Ludlow returns after her performance in the choir for Phoenix Theatre's production of The Christians last season. Ludlow provides a beautiful reminder of real-life woes for Casey, playing his pregnant finance and the family rock. A fantastic musical theatre performer, Ludlow has the chance to play a straight character and offer some context amongst the drag spectacle. Rounding out the cast is Indianapolis favorite Ty Stover, making his Phoenix Theatre debut. Stover's gritty but lovable Eddie runs the Panama City Beach bar with a rough hand, mostly trying to keep the place afloat long enough to pour a drink or two. Stover's natural comedic timing helps him keep up with the sassy and splashy drag queens and provides a lovely arc of prejudice turned to advocacy for the audience. Fans of Stover's Circle of Lights Santa Claus will delight to see him in this completely different character.
Featuring costume design by the incomparable Stephen Hollenbeck, wig and makeup design by the brilliant Andrew Elliot, beautifully lighting design by Laura Glover, fantastic scenery by Lindsay Lyddan, sparkling sound design by Zach Rosing, and gorgeous choreography by Kenny Shepard, The Legend of Georgia McBride, directed by Suzanne Fleenor, will leave you begging for more from this incredible team. Performances run Thursdays at 7pm, Friday/Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 2pm September 12 to October 6 at Phoenix Theatre. Tickets range from $25-$44 and are available now at PhoenixTheatre.org or by calling the Box Office at 317-635-7529.