Georgia McBride

Closing the 2018 to 2019 TheatreSquared season, “The Legend of Georgia McBride” conquers heteronormativity, features relatable humor and feel-good moments and leaves audiences shocked at the story’s unlikely events.

The production takes place in a beachside Florida bar, following a young Elvis impersonator who loses his job and takes on a drag persona to meet his family’s financial needs.

The acting was the best I have ever seen from a local production. Max Falls and Margaret Ivey had amazing chemistry together as protagonists Casey and Jo, a young couple trying to pay the bills.

For some scenes, the producers relied on a smoke machine, which failed and tripped the fire alarm, resulting in the producers temporarily evacuating the theatre. The fire department’s arrival interrupted the show for 15 minutes. Other than that, the show was perfect, with one character breaking the fourth wall to make light of the smoke machine error.

During the performance, the actors would interact with the audience. Notably, Falls came up to me, in character, and looked me in the eyes while the lighting personnel put the spotlight on me, leaving me stunned.

James Beaman shined as Miss Tracy Mills. Every second he was on stage, Beaman portrayed his character flawlessly. Together, Falls and Beaman deliver glamor and sass as their drag personas Georgia McBride and Miss Tracy Mills. Regardless, every character was interesting and critical to the story from beginning to end.

Notably, Mills was more than just the comic relief. The play could not have succeeded without his fun, rambunctious humor, delivering any shade necessary. No other actor could have delivered Beaman’s lines the way he did, as other actors might have depicted some of his most notable scenes as cringy.

Rexy, played by Brandon Curry, was a drag queen working with Mills. Rexy initially was a problematic and obnoxious character, but had an important, overarching role in the story.

Curry also played the role of Casey and Jo’s landlord, Jason. Curry’s ability to portray such different roles left me breathless, portraying Jason with a carefree neutral attitude, while portraying Rexy with a diva attitude.

Near the play’s end,  Rexy, returned to deliver a series of anecdotes reminding the audience of the challenges the LGBTQ community faces everyday. Curry’s ability to deeply change the tone from funny and light hearted to poignant and moving was mind blowing.

Humorous references to pop culture occurred throughout the production. Many of Mills’ drag performances feature dramatic moments from classic American films, like the “they’re all going to laugh at you” scene in Stephen King’s “Carrie,” depicted with comical dramatization, laughs and shock humor at every turn.

The special effects were particularly interesting. During the transitions between scenes, stage lighting personel used the spotlight on characters to establish a scene. The lighting personnel also used shades of lighting to establish a stereotypical Miami feel, having teal and purple lights associated with the city.

Despite how funny, interesting and humorous the show was, it was jarring to see how the writers mismanaged time allocation for all six of the characters. For example, Curry’s other character, Jason the landlord, appeared only a handful of times, serving mainly as a plot device to further interaction between Casey and Jo.

Music was the key element at the heart of the show. The showrunners perfectly curated songs for each heart-stopping drag performance.

The set designers created a well-laid-out set that resulted in quick scene transitions and allowed the show to continue at a rapid pace.

“The Legend of Georgia McBride” was ultimately more than it appeared. The cast and crew delivered a solid and heartfelt rollercoaster ride that never failed to leave me wanting more.

“The Legend of Georgia McBride” is showing May 1 through June 2 at the Walton Arts Center. Ticket prices range from $17.50 to $28.

Zachery Sutherland is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where he has been a staff reporter since February 2019.

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