By ERIKA SASSEVILLE and JACOB FROELICH
In The Legend of Georgia McBride Playing now through August 26th at the Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Casey (Jayson Speters) is a failing Elvis impersonator in Panama City, Florida trying to support himself, his wife Jo (Chaz Hodges), and a baby on the way. Casey’s boss at Cleo’s Bar, Eddie (Jim Lichtscheidl), tells him that he will no longer be performing his act, he resigns himself to bartending. The act replacing him is none other than a drag show, created and performed by Eddie’s cousin Tracy (Cameron Folmar) and her friend Rexy (Arturo Soria). When Rexy gets too drunk to perform one night, Casey steps up in a pair of heels to take her place. Tracy creates a convincing enough drag queen out of Casey in the few minutes she has between shows and taking Casey’s mother’s birthplace and the last name of his first love she creates his first stage name: Georgia McBride.
The Legend of Georgia McBride is full of character, both in and out of drag. Folmar, Soria, and Speters shine in their drag numbers, but the real heart of each character happens behind the scene’s at Cleo’s. Tracy and Casey’s partnership blossoms into a wildly successful drag routine and they become a permanent addition to Cleo’s Panama City Bar. It doesn’t take long for Casey to truly blossom in his role and realize the potential in his character. Their success is a roaring good time for both the characters and audience alike. The whole thing is an absolute delight and fun for most ages (13+).
Things hit a bump in the road however when the truth comes out. We come to see that Casey hasn’t been completely upfront and truthful with his partner and himself about not only how he makes a living, but the seriousness of the profession he has entered. Tensions run high and things go from happy go lucky to tumultuous at best, and yet it is some of the most intense and heart wrenching acting in the show. The cast does a beautiful job in these moments. Speters as Casey takes a beating and has his world view widened by his closest friends and partner. Particularly noteworthy is a harsh reality check between Rexy and Casey about the historical adversities drag queens face making their way in a world that wasn’t alway so welcoming. It’s a sobering moment and brings a unique perspective to the Guthrie Stage. Another favorite moment is between Casey and Tracy. A beautiful coming of age moment as Tracy, the mother hen of sorts, teaches Casey an important lesson about being true to yourself. Again, it’s a lesson as old as time itself, but presented from the perspective of someone who created herself from the ground up. The cast and characters in this show are truly phenomenal and not to be missed.
The Legend of Georgia McBride is a heartwarming tale of some unlikely characters and friends. It will easily warm your heart and provoke a good belly laugh. The entire cast, crew, production and direction have earned our praise. The show is produced just enough while still being light and fun and we thoroughly recommend you go and see it at The Guthrie this summer.
The Legend of Georgia McBride plays July 14 – August 26, 2018 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage. Single tickets start at $15 for preview performances (July 14–19) and are on sale now through the Box Office at 612.377.2224, 1.877.44.STAGE (toll-free), 612.225.6244 (group sales) and online at guthrietheater.org.