Beck Center’s ‘The Legend Of Georgia McBride” is a one joke show
OK...first things first. Note to Beck Center...Two Hours Is Too Long For A Show Without An Intermission! This became very obvious when half of the audience made a running beeline to the facilities as soon as the final lights went up. In the case of the current production “The Legend Of Georgia McBride” you could have placed a small ten minute break when Georgia finds her stage persona. It is roughly half way through the show and would have fit nicely.
Secondly, what is it with all of the black outs between scenes? There is no secret that you are moving sets and furniture so why hide it? We have to endure blackout after blackout with the lights going down then slowly back up. Keep the lights on and it will speed up the show immensely. We don’t mind...really we don’t.
Now, on with the show. Casey (Matt Gittins) does a less than great Elvis impersonation in a dive bar in Panama Beach, Florida. Things are not going good for Casey and his wife, Jo (Bryce Evan Lewis). Their second rent check in a row has bounced, Jo announces that she is pregnant, The bar’s owner, Eddie (Brian Pedaci) tells Casey that Elvis has left the building and is being replaced by a Drag Queen act put together by his cousin, Miss Tracy Mills (Jason Eno) and her partner Miss Anorexia Nervosa (Zak Tahsin). Tracy talks Eddie to keep ex-Elvis Casey on as the bartender.
Casey’s life changes for the better when Anorexia gets pass out drunk before her Edith Piaf number. With the threat of everyone getting fired Tracy convinces Casey to dress up in drag and do the French number by mouthing the words “watermelon MF” over and over again. Somehow it works and Casey loves simply being on stage performing plus the money is pretty good. One small problem, he is too embarrassed to tell his wife.
With Casey bitten by the performing bug he now searches for a Drag Persona. Tracy throws out some rather outrageous ideas when Casey has an epiphany as he takes one of his old Elvis costumes and transfers it into a female “Drag Elvis.” The change is a big hit and the money is rolling in for everyone.
“Drag” is the act of a male dressing up as a woman. Not just any woman but a glamorous show business personality such as Barbara, Liza, Edith or Judy. It is the science of combining glamorous show dresses, extravagant wigs, heavy make-up, long fake eyelashes and jewelry in order to fool the audience. This is combined with effeminate gestures such as hip sways and arm movements as the queens lip sync to popular show tunes. Most drag queens are straight men acting elegant. It has been around for decades and when done well it can be a real hoot.
As for the show it has some problems along with the length and lack of intermission. The main character, Georgia McBride has the thinning body, great legs and stage presence but his face is just too manly. At no time do you see a drag queen but rather a man in a dress. Also, whether by design or not, the outfits and wigs look like something dredged out of a Goodwill bin...from the 70s. Later in the show the quality of costuming improves slightly but it would have been nice if the quality standards had been observed throughout.
While Jason Eno gives it the old college try there is also something lacking...she is just not draggy enough. Zak Tahsin as Anorexia and Casey’s friend and landlord is the least drag looking one of the bunch. On the plus side, Brian Pedaci does a good turn as the bar owner and MC and Bryce Even Lewis shows real affection in her relationship with Casey. The concept of starting small and building up is commendable the final finale is a case of too little too late. It is simply too long of a ride.
While a great concept, the show lacks in writing pizzazz. The humor could have been punch up a lot more as the idea was ripe with potential. Add to this the costuming, endless set blackout changes, and long intermissionless two hours it made for a long evening. Of course, the audience the evening I saw it loved and hooted and cheered through the entire show so don’t take my word for it.
“The Legend Of Georgia McBride” will be on stage at the Beck Center’s Studio Theatre through June 26, 2022. For more information and tickets go to www.beckcenter.org or call (216) 521-254- X10.