Review of The Legend of Georgia McBride
By Matthew Lopez
Directed by Kent Gash
For tickets & schedule:
Marin Theatre Company
Mill Valley, CA
RUN: June 8 – July 2, 2017 Extended through July 9!
RATING: 4 of 5 stars
(June 14, 2017)
Amid the glamour and show stopping montages of dynamic drag queens shimmering with personality is the story of a young man floundering to discover himself and finding an understanding mentor in the least likely place imaginable. What begins as Miss Tracy Mills feeling pity for the washed out Elvis impersonator she is replacing becomes a strong friendship that is a joy to watch unfold. The Legend of Georgia McBride is filled with compassion and hope that with the support of a community, dreams can come true and life will turn itself around to be something worth fighting for.
Casey (Adam Magill) accidentally finds himself onstage as a queen in a “show must go on” situation, with a gloriously awkward first attempt, tottering in high heels and barely managing to lip sync. His affection for the persona of Georgia McBride fights with his identity as a straight soon to be father, causing havoc in his relationship with Jo (Tatiana Wechler), his wife. Wechler portrays a no-nonsense, practical woman deeply in love with her husband, and the two of them have heartwarming scenes together, particularly in the final act.
Kraig Swartz as mature drag queen Miss Tracy Mills is a natural—perfectly comfortable in heels, wigs and skirts. It takes hours before each performance for the transformation, and it is worth it; from the moment Miss Tracy Mills appears, in an elegant gown with vintage bob of a hairpiece and kind, warm demeanor, she is sensational. Diva in every sense of the word, Rexy (Jason Kapoor) is the over-the-top sort of queen, relishing her “shades” and obnoxiously arrogant, until a lapse into vulnerability reveals complexity beneath the hard exterior.
While Casey’s gradual transformation through practice and talent is an ongoing theme, the club owner Eddie (John R. Lewis) is perhaps the most dramatic shift in character. Suspicious of drag queen culture, he is not interested in participating, until he observes the positive impact it is having on his business. By the end of the play, he is donning flashing light-up glasses and twirling his way into the spotlight, excited to be part of the team.
Lighting designer Kurt Landisman had way too much fun with this production—from starry night fields surrounding a glittering disco ball to pulsing colors bouncing off the silver waterfall backdrop, he unleashes a party atmosphere that is infectious. The audience is encouraged to interact during the drag performances—go ahead and shout, applaud, and react as if it is an actual club, rather than a theater. The script has leeway for a remarkable amount of creative freedom, and the team at Marin Theatre Company went all out with music and lightning fast costume changes thanks to designer Kara Harmon. Standouts were “I Will Survive” and “Born This Way” in runway style.
The Legend of Georgia McBride is a tinsel draped coming of age spectacular that celebrates acceptance and being true to yourself, even if it is not the person you wanted to be. The cast is genuinely enjoying the show, creating a confident, positive atmosphere. For a transfusion of creative enthusiasm, drive to Mill Valley for this one-of-a-kind theatrical experience.