The Legend of Georgia McBride a solid hit at Marin Theatre Company

(l-r) Miss Tracy Mills (Kraig Swartz and Casey (Adam Magill) in The Legend of Georgia McBride at MTC

The Legend of Georgia McBride: Comedy by Matthew Lopez. Directed by Kent Gash. Marin Theatre Company, 397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley, CA . 415.388.5200 or June 13-July 2, 2017 EXTENDED TO JULY 9

The Legend of Georgia McBride a solid hit at Marin Theatre Company. Rating: ★★★★☆1/2

When Marin Theatre Company (MTC) Artistic Director booked The Legend of Georgie McBride for its San Francisco premiere he did not intentionally schedule the opening during Pride Week. But it is Pride Week and Georgia McBride could not be a better suited to celebrate the week. The five member cast playing six roles had the audience clapping and at the curtain call giving a standing ovation as the final drag number blasted across the footlights.  It is a should/must see production.

The adage of when life gives you lemons do not complain make lemonade. That is what Casey (Adam Magill) an unsuccessful Elvis Presley impersonator does after being cut from the show in a second-rate bar in the Florida Panhandle run by Eddie (John R. Lewis) who is bringing in a drag show in an attempt to make a buck or two.  The two drag queens he has imported to replace our erstwhile Elvis are Miss Tracy (Kraig Swartz) and Rexy short for Anorexia nervosa (Jason Kapoor).

When alcoholic Rexy passes out the show must go on and the recently fired but still available Casey reluctantly wins the brass ring choosing the name Georgia McBride who is destined to become a legend. Even though author Matthew Lopez has slipped in some very cogent dialog about Rexy’s tough life as a teenager brought up gay in Houston the play is a satirical comedy written for laughs and entertainment.

To create a plausible reason for Casey to perform in drag Lopez has created a pot boiler twist with wife Jo (Tatiana Weschler) being pregnant and money is needed to prevent being evicted by the mean landlady wife of friendly Jason (Kapour again). Inexplicably he does not tell Jo about his new gig/personae and you know that will add a bit of drama before the evening ends.

The transformation of Casey into drag with the donning of each costume piece ending with a wig and makeup is a kick and a holler. Tall handsome Magill’s body/fat ratio must be near zero and thus perfect for drag even though his size 13 feet may cause a problem. Tracy, the ultimate professional, is a great teacher. Casey’s terrible first performance as Edith Piaf with lip-synching of the lyrics nonexistent is the start of the Legend.

Tracy/Kraig  rarely gets out of drag and you might question whether he/she is a woman. Lopez does not rely on the usual wig removal by drag queens at the end of their performances allowing the audience to give an appreciative gasp. He sets up a single scene with Tracy out of costume and Kraig playing it straight.

The fun of the show relies on the actors playing drag must take their role changes seriously and ham it up just enough to elicit appreciative laughs. Magill, Swartz and Kapoor make their internal/external switches from male to female personalities fun to watch and appreciate.

The role of Eddie the bar owner is necessary for plot construction and John R. Lewis milks the role to the limit or is it a directorial conceit? Experienced director Kent Gash who helmed MTC’s famed productions of Choir Boy (2015) and August Wilson’s Seven Guitars (2011) allows structured mayhem but always in control.  Tatiana Wechsler makes the most of the underwritten role of wife Jo and her reconciliation kisses with Casey/Georgia are touching.  

The acting and directing must share accolades with the multiple costumes fashioned by Kara Harmon. In each scene she brings out startling/garish color with hysterical touches each trying to outmatch the previous one. Jason Sherwood’s multi-area appropriately seedy set is perfect for the show and is enhanced by lights (Kurt Landisman) and sound (Chris Houston).  Last but not least Dell Howlett’s choreography (including the roller skating) is the icing on the cake. Running time 115 minutes without an intermission.

Finale: (l-r)Rexy (Jason Kapoor), Casey (Adam Magill) and Miss Tracy Mills (Kraig Swartz). “It’s Raining Men.”

CAST: John R. Lewis as Eddie; Jason Kapoor as Rexy/Jason; Adam Magill as Casey/Georgia McBride; ​Kraig Swartz as  Miss Tracy Mills; Tatiana Wechsler as Jo.

CREATIVE TEAM: Matthew Lope, Playwright; Kent Gash, Director; Dell Howlett, Choreographer; Jason Sherwood, Scenic Designer; Kurt Landisman, Lighting Designer; Kara Harmon, Costume Designer; Chris Houston, Composer and Sound Designer; Devon LaBelle, Props Master

Kedar K. Adour, MD