Matthew Lopez's "The Legend of Georgia McBride" can be deceptive. On its face, the play is a wacky comedy that tells the story of what happens when a down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator named Casey has to make a sudden shift to drag performances to support his pregnant wife. But as Bruce Warren -- director of the TheatreSquared production -- points out, Lopez's script packs more of an emotional wallop than one might expect, and the comedy masks deep themes like identity and acceptance.
"Sometimes you're riding the line," says Warren. "There are scenes where you're like, 'Is this scene dramatic? No, because they just said a laugh line, so this scene is still in the comedy realm.'" This is Warren's fifth season at T2, where he's performed in shows like "Around the World in 80 Days" and "Hound of the Baskervilles." "Georgia" will be his first directing gig on the T2 mainstage. "But it really rides the line and vacillates in a great way. Sometimes the emotional impact sneaks up on you in this play because you're having so much fun, [then], all of a sudden, you feel something, and you're like, 'Oh, wait a minute, what's that?'"
‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’
WHEN — May 1-26, Tuesdays-Fridays at 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 and 7:30 p.m.; Sundays at 2 p.m.
WHERE — TheatreSquared at Nadine Baum Studios in Fayetteville
COST — $10-$49
INFO — 443-5600
It's a line Warren's cast of likeable and talented actors treads beautifully. When Max Falls, as the hapless but heartwarming Casey, stumbles towards the realization that a career as a drag performer might just be what he was born to do, fellow performers Miss Tracy Mills (veteran female impersonator James Beaman) and Rexy (Brandon Curry) help lead him to the light. Beaman's every move as Tracy is flawless -- Tracy is never without perfect pageant feet -- and the actor balances nicely Tracy's maternal instincts toward Casey with tart impatience for the fledgling drag performer's initial hesitation. Curry, meanwhile, who, as Rexy, is the spice to Beaman's sugar, delivers a powerhouse monologue about growing up gay in Texas and follows that up with a choreographed performance of a Beyoncé song that is electric. Rounding out the impressive cast is Margaret Ivey, tough but funny as Casey's wife, Jo, and Northwest Arkansas favorite Bill Rogers, who offers a brash, raucous performance as Eddie, owner of the bar and emcee of the drag shows.
When Falls signed on to the role of Casey, he had never done drag before.
"I was very nervous," he admits. "I got a pair of heels to practice in New York. I was more nervous about doing justice to the part, but that feeling sort of left when I got in the room and realized that I was working with people who were supportive and loving, and that we were all on this journey together." And the clothes, as it turns out, really do make the woman. "Once everything comes together, and we're in full makeup and costume, that's when it's really going to come to life. You can only do so much in street clothes. We did publicity photos, and it really changed everything once I got into full costume."
Speaking of costumes, Warren says T2 landed the perfect professional to act as costume designer for this show. Designer Bryce Turgeon and Warren met years ago at a theater where they were both working.
"Turgeon left theater to blow up in the drag industry," says Warren. "He's a highly sought after designer in that world. He helped build some of the looks for the off-Broadway production, so he knew the play and knew the demands for the play -- there are a lot of quick changes -- and he said, 'I think I want to do my version.'"
Of course, costumes are but one part of the puzzle. Choreographer Stephanie Card is responsible for putting together the sweet moves that make the drag numbers in the show sing.
"I thought it was important that a woman teach a man to move like a woman," says Warren. "Stephanie agreed to come on board, and it has been awesome. She came in with a plethora of knowledge and inspiration that she's drawing from for the choreography."
NAN What's Up on 04/28/2019
Print Headline: Anything But A Drag