‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’ is light-hearted fun
STONEHAM – Michael Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is a drag queen drama with family values, the kind of show you wouldn’t mind bringing even a first date or your mom to.
The comedy now at the Greater Boston Stage Company pays tribute to plays and musicals that have come before in this genre – “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” is one that comes to mind – in it depiction of a lip-syncing Elvis impersonator who finds new life by tapping his feminine side at a time of financial necessity
It’s also unlikely to offend anyone who has seen the above show or works such as the popular film/musical “La Cage Aux Folles.”
It takes place in a small town in the panhandle of Florida, hardly an area – such as the backlands of Australia in “Priscilla” – you’d expect a drag bar to flourish.
Cleo’s, owned by Eddie (Ed Peed), is going down for the count, partly due to the Elvis lip-synced act of Casey (Jared Reinfeldt), who’s even invested in some new jump suits for the sinking ship,much to the distress of harried waitress wife Jo (Jade Guerra).
Casey is always bouncing rent checks, which makes landlord and friend Jason (Alex Pollock), who’s nervous about his mortgage and talking eviction.
Things don’t get any better when Jo announces the couple is in a family way, setting off even more financial panic.
The pairing of Guerra and Reinfeldt seems a bit tentative at first and it takes a while for them to meld well on stage.
The. comes the sudden arrival at Cleo’s of Eddie’s cousin Bobby (Rick Park), who has long since morphed into his stage persona, the drag queen Miss Tracy Mills, and sidekick Rexy (Pollock in a double role), short for Anorexia Nervosa, a drag queen prone to alcohol-fueled benders.
“What is this hellhole I see before me?” is Tracy’s first impression of her new digs.
Their arrival signals the end for Casey’s run as Elvis, though; he is offered a bartending job as consolation. When Rexy goes on a bender, Casey decides to take a giant, desperate leap and try his hand at drag, and Georgia McBride is born.
With all due respect to the other players, Park’s Tracy is the hub of the wheel, a big, bold drag queen with a heart of gold who takes pity on Casey and schools him in his awkward – to put it mildly — transformation from Elvis impersonator to female impersonator.
As Casey learns the intricacies of pantyhose and the need to construct a proper “balcony,” Tracy is ready with a wisecrack or a few words of support when it’s needed,
As Casey struggles with his female undergarments, Tracy recalls “That was me in my bedroom as a teenager.”
Tracy knows who and what he/she is and is comfortable with it. Yes, there is a lot of Harvey Fierstein in him/her, and a large helping of some of the characters Fierstein has created through the years, but that’s a good thing. Park is able to walk the fine line to find both the humor and the heart in the role
Pollock has been able to inhabit and bring to vivid life quirky characters ever since he made a large splash in Company One’s “The Aliens” and “The Flick” and here aces the part of Michelle – stage name Anorexia Nervosa – a hard-drinking drag queen whose decision to go on a bender give Casey his first shot at drag stardom.
Veteran character actor and scene stealer Ed Peed – I still laugh when I recall his character Claude Robichaux in Huntington’s “A Confederacy of Dunces” – is also great fun as the well-worn proprietor of “Cleo’s.”
Russell Garrett, a fine actor, makes his debut as a director-choreographer at GBSC and has parlayed sly casting, the fine comic timing of the cast and the requisite shake-it-up-there movement to make for a light but entertaining 90 minutes
Park and Company look to be having some fun up there, especially in the production numbers when all the “queens,” in full regalia, take to the stage and take us along for the ride.
As spring finally arrives, “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is bright and light-hearted, with a kindly message to boot, and it just might be the right place to take your Mom this weekend.
The Greater Boston Stage Company production of Matthew Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” Directed and choreographed by Russell Garrett. Scenic design by Christina Todesco and Jeff Adelberg. Costume design by Gail Astrid Buckley. Lighting design by Jeff Adelberg. Sound design by Monica Giordano. At the Greater Boston Stage Company through May 20. Greaterbostonstage.org.