Regional Reviews: Connecticut and the Berkshires
The Legend of Georgia McBride
Another big plus about this production is that the casting is spot-on, with Clint Hromsco really shining as Casey and the wonderful Sam Given standing out as Miss Tracy Mills, Casey's costar at the drag shows, as well as being his mentor. Director Todd L. Underwood keeps the show on the move.
On Martin Scott Marchitto's excellent set, which fully utilizes the Ivoryton Playhouse stage, with three separate playing areas, the show starts out with Casey barely getting by doing his Elvis impersonation shows. He is married to Jo (the lovely Rae Janeil), and the two are facing a great deal of financial burdens, including rent money a long time overdue. Not to give too much away, but Casey is put in a spot where he must perform in drag before he quickly finds out that he really loves doing it.
Clint Hromsco is an extremely charming performer and one sees the transformation of him becoming Georgia McBride (his drag name) and getting increasingly better with each onstage performance, lip-syncing with the best of them. It also helps that Sam Given joins Hromsco in the show. Given was great in Ivoryton Playhouse's production of Cabaret a few seasons ago and he is even better here. As Miss Tracy Mills, he is both a drag artist of the highest rank and a real support system for Casey.
Given is particularly fantastic when he lip syncs to Liza Minnelli's rendition of "Some People," and costume designer Angela Carstensen has really gone above and beyond in providing the flashy, dazzling costumes, which truly bring the drag scenes to life. But Given also brings a lot of heart to the character and manages to turn the basically supporting role of Miss Tracy Mills into the very center of the production.
The rest of the company is similarly grand. As Eddie, the owner of the club where the drag artists perform, Mike Boland is extremely funny and deadpan and he makes his brief appearances in the show really count. Rae Janeil is also quite fine as Casey's wife, Jo, bringing humor and levity to the production. Timiki Salinas takes on two roles, the part of Jason, Casey and Jo's friend and landlord, as well as the more than slightly tipsy drag performer Rexy. Salinas really stands out as Rexy, especially in a powerful backstage scene where he describes being gay-bashed and how he managed to not only survive it, but to keep going and triumph against all odds.
The lighting and sound design is provided by Alan Piotrowicz, and his work is stellar, providing crystal clear sound that is crucial in the many scenes where the performers are lip syncing. A shout-out also goes to wig designer Elizabeth Saylor, whose work is stunning and classy throughout.
Most of the elements in Ivoryton Playhouse's production of The Legend of Georgia McBride are topnotch and the only real problem is a slight feeling of overlength. However, once the drag performance scenes fully take hold, the show is a blast. Even if drag is not your thing, The Legend of Georgia McBride is bound to win you over, as it provides an almost non-stop display of festivity and delight, as well as truly making one care deeply about all the characters.
The Legend of Georgia McBride runs through April 30, 2023, at Ivoryton Playhouse, 103 Main Street, Ivoryton CT. For tickets and information, please visit www.ivorytonplayhouse.org.