Playwright Matthew Lopez is best known for the Obie-Winning drama The Whipping Man, which has had over forty productions worldwide since its 2011 debut. Lopez is the very definition of “up and coming playwright.” The Legend of Georgia McBride is a comedy about a down-and-out Elvis impersonator who achieves success as a drag performer. A success in New York (the New York Times described it as “full of sass”), this production is the The Legend’s Bay area premiere, presented by one of our leading companies.
Adam McGill is a fine actor who has done distinguished work in several Bay area productions over the past few years, giving a notable performance as Con in SF Playhouse’s production of “Stupid Fucking Bird” and appearing more recently as a very comical Arthur de Bourgh in Marin Theatre Company’s world premiere of “Christmas at Pemberley.” He stretches his comic skills like a rubber band (with plenty of snap!) as Casey, a hapless but sweet-hearted Elvis impersonator, who discovers an unexpected talent for performing as a drag queen. McGill is amazing as he develops Casey from a clumsy beginner to a grande dame performing as Georgia McBride.
McGill is clearly the star of this production, but he is well supported by Kraig Swartz, playing Casey’s drag coach Miss Tracy Mills, and Jason Kapoor as drag queen Rexy. John R. Lewis is hilarious as the bar owner/impressario who finds himself unexpectedly running a successful drag show. Tatiana Wechsler is emotionally on point as Casey’s unsuspecting girlfriend, Jo.
Matthew Lopez is a very skillful playwright, and if “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is somewhat formulaic, it is well constructed for laughter and tears and does its job for sure. On opening night, the show received an unusually enthusiastic standing ovation.
It has been remarked that San Francisco is blessed with a number of highly capable drag performers who might have been tapped for this production, and that is true. Clearly, part of the fun is seeing actors who are not known for drag performance step out and step up in high heels. I doubt that the team at Marin Theatre Company intended to slight anybody in choosing not to hire working drag queens, but some will wonder if this was the best choice and it is a point that should be raised and thought about.
Still, “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is full of heart and provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate Pride Month at the theatre.
“The Legend of Georgia McBride” continues an extended run through July 9th at Marin Theatre Company. For further information, click here.
Rating: **** (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)
“The Legend of Georgia McBride” by Matthew Lopez. Produced by Marin Theatre Company. Director: Kent Gash. Scenic Designer: Jason Sherwood. Lighting Designer: Kurt Landisman. Costume Designer: Kara Harmon. Composer & Sound Designer: Chris Houston. Choreographer and Assistant Director: Dell Howlett.
Eddie: John R. Lewis. Casey: Adam Magill. Jo: Tatiana Wechsler. Miss Tracy Mills: Kraig Swartz. Rexy/Jason: Justin Kapoor.