Regional Reviews: Las Vegas
The Legend of Georgia McBride
Also see Mary's review of Into the Woods
The Legend of Georgia McBride has a special resonance for Las Vegas. Who doesn't love a down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator who reinvents himself with the help of a down-on-her-luck drag queen?
From the lowest of lows to the highest of highs, Las Vegas knows how to reinvent and repurpose itself to keep the tourists rolling in. And in Matthew Lopez's charming comedy, that is what the young, married, straight, flat-broke, and expectant father Casey needs to do, since his usual routine of lip-synching and gyrating to Elvis's biggest hits isn't exactly packing them in at the local dive bar, Cleo's at the Beach.
When Cleo's owner Eddie fires Casey and brings in a pair of drag queens, Tracy Mills and Anorexia Nervosa (Rexy), in hopes of drawing bigger crowds, things go awry from the start, with Rexy passing out drunk on their opening night. In the show must go on tradition, Casey is reluctantly pressed into service. Casey isn't exactly a natural, and some of the show's best comedy comes from Tracy's efforts to teach him the tricks of the trade followed by his laughably bad first performance. But, once he discovers his drag persona, a star is born.
Lopez's script has plenty of laughs, even if some of them feel a bit formulaic. Tracy and Rexy get most of the punch lines, and while they deliver them well, the stereotype of the wise-cracking acid-tongued drag queen is starting to feel a bit dated.
Under Troy Heard's direction, Majestic Repertory's production soars in the over-the-top scenes, starting with Tracy's drag boot camp for Casey, and continuing through a delightful montage of lip-synched country music performances by Casey, now reinvented as the exuberant hottie Georgia McBride. Tracy and Georgia's dance moves are nicely choreographed by Venus Cobb.
As Casey, Randy Hample is a lithe and wiry bundle of energy, ready to spring into action at a moment's notice. His drag performances are electrifying. Even his Florida Panhandle accent rings true. Michael Sullivan also does fine work as Tracy, imbuing the older drag queen with more than a touch of class.
The production's weakness, however, is in the quieter scenes. There is no chemistry between Casey and his wife Jo (played by Destiny Faith), and their acting styles are so different that it feels like they are in two different shows. The second act lacks the flashy drag sequences of the first act, and they are sorely missed. What should be a dramatic high pointGeorgia's heartfelt vocal/guitar solo as Casey discovers what drag means for himfails to pack a punch. However, all is not lost. A sobered-up Rexy gives Casey a powerful life lesson in drag as gay male empowerment, and Casey has his own heartfelt moment of self-discovery. These moments inject some much-needed vitality into the second act, but the ending still lacks a dramatic punch.
The Design Ninjas set includes a perfect jewel-box stage framed by a brightly lit proscenium. The drag costumes by Ruben Permel make for great eye candyincluding one colorful headpiece that looks like the love-child of a bathing cap and a blowfish that swallowed bubble gum. The costumes alone may be worth the price of admission.
The Legend of Georgia McBride, through June 16, 2019, at Majestic Repertory Theatre, 1217 S. Main St., Las Vegas NV. Performances are Friday-Saturday at 8 pm, Sundays at 5 pm, and Thursday, June 6, at 8 pm. For tickets ($25 adults, $15 students) and further information, go to www.majesticrepertory.com.