Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

The Legend of Georgia McBride
Arden Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's recent review of Mother Courage and Her Children and Cameron's review of When the Rain Stops Falling


Matteo Scammell and Dito van Reigersberg
Photo by Mark Garvin
If you are hoping for a fun, frivolous, and fabulous night out at the theater, the Arden Theatre Company's current production, The Legend of Georgia McBride, is just the ticket. Matthew Lopez's newest play has a little something for everyone: It is a love story and a buddy comedy. The characters include one high energy Elvis impersonator and a bevy of marvelous drag queens. There is a ton of irreverent lip synching and enough heartfelt acoustic guitar to keep things grounded. Much like Miss Tracy Mills, The Legend of Georgia McBride may be imperfect, but it is sure to send everyone home with a smile on their faces.

Casey (Matteo Scammell) is a happy-go-lucky guy who loves all things Elvis almost as much as he loves his young wife Jo (Jessica Johnson). When he loses his job as an Elvis impersonator, Casey becomes a reluctant drag queen in order to provide for his growing family. Casey perfects his new persona with the help of veteran cabaret performer Miss Tracy Mills (played by the inimitable Dito Van Reigersberg, aka Philadelphia legend Martha Graham Cracker) but continues to hide the new identity from his wife. You can probably guess almost everything that happens next, but that does not make the journey any less enjoyable.

What Georgia McBride lacks in originality it makes up for in fascinating characters and playful performances. Scammell credibly portrays Casey as a charming small town guy who just wants to entertain his audience without thinking too hard about the implications of becoming a drag queen. Reigersberg's cabaret style numbers on the nightclub stage are oodles of fun to watch, but Miss Tracy Mills is at her strong and insightful best back stage. Mikéah Ernest Jennings is excellent as Rexy, a satisfyingly complex and very funny addition to the dream team of queens.

Jorge Cousineau's thoughtful set design allows the action to flow easily from one location to the next. Unfortunately, more than a few of those transitions are prolonged by awkward interludes where the last remaining character on stage takes a whole minute to put on makeup or dance around or stare thoughtfully. Director Matthew Lopez could improve the pace and the rhythm of the production by cutting these uncomfortable scene openings and closings completely.

The Legend of Georgia McBride runs at the Arden Theatre Company's Arcadia Stage at 40 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia through December 4, 2016. For tickets Call the Arden Box Office at 215-922-1122, visit www.ardentheatre.org or visit the box office.

Cast:
Miss Tracy Mills: Dito van Reigersberg
Casey: Matteo Scammell
Jo: Stephanee Martin
Rexy/Jason: Mikéah Ernest Jennings
Eddie: Damien Wallace

Crew:
Director: Emmanuelle Delpech
Scenic and Sound Designer: Jorge Cousineau
Costume Designer: Olivera Gajic
Lighting Designer: Maria Shaplin


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