WSTA’s ‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’ slayed
After seeing an incredible performance by the Winston-Salem Theatre Alliance last month for the show “Billy Elliot,” I was so excited to get back to see its production of “The Legend of Georgia McBride.” I wasn’t able to make it to the show until the day before it closed. Thankfully, the WSTA was able to squeeze me in a seat at the front of the small, yet intimate stage. (Originally, the show was set to run Sept. 13-22, but because it was so successful and fabulous, it got to run for another weekend!)
Matthew Lopez’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” tells the story of Casey, a straight man and Elvis impersonator turned drag queen that works at a run-down bar in Panama City Beach, Florida, to support his growing family. Casey (David Joy) and Jo (Heather Jaynes) are a young married couple living with their friend Jason (John C. Wilson), his wife and two- er- three kids, struggling to help pay the rent with their own baby on the way. Casey works at Cleo’s, a small beach bar 45 minutes away from his home, as an Elvis impersonator. But with no one showing up to see his act, Cleo’s owner Eddie (Ken Ashford) replaces him with two drag queens, Miss Tracy Mills (Gray Smith) and Anorexia “Rexy” Nervosa (also John C. Wilson). Casey had to sashay off stage and start slinging drinks.
After Rexy gets wasted and can’t perform, Eddie threatens to fire the queens, that is, unless someone takes Rexy’s place… thus, Casey’s drag persona, Georgia McBride, is born- unbeknownst to Jo. When Georgia and Tracy’s show starts getting successful, the play crescendos when Jo finds out Casey’s secret.
This show was part live theatre and part drag show extravaganza, which made it entertaining and engaging from start to finish. During the main plotline’s scenes, I found myself wanting to see more drag. During the drag shows, I was on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what would happen when Jo found out Casey’s secret life. The music of Cher, Britney Spears, Liza Minnelli and Madonna was quintessential drag queen bops that made the crowd go wild. And of course, a nudge to RuPaul with a finale performance of “Sissy That Walk.”
The actors of this production were top-notch. David Joy’s performance as a straight, cis drag queen was hilarious, endearing and refreshing. Gray Smith’s Miss Tracy Mills stole the show. (Well, until The Bartender (Landon Boggs) stole the spotlight during the Frozen number. Miss Tracy Mills was dressed as Elsa and lip-synced to the song “Let It Go” while The Bartender, dressed as Olaf, danced around throwing and spraying fake snow.) The entire cast was entertaining, and you could see that they all put their hearts into this production.
My favorite aspect of this play was, of course, the actors, the storyline, and the mise en scène. But as an aspiring drag king myself, this play’s commentary on the art of drag and the LGBTQIA+ community was my favorite part. “The Legend of Georgia McBride” affirms that all forms of drag are valid. It educates the audience that drag is a form a protest against an oppressive and heteronormative society. And most importantly, it showed that drag is an art form that celebrates individuality and allows you to reinvent and express yourself.
Oh honey, the WSTA really turned the party with this performance.
*Insert obligatory Alyssa Edwards tongue pop*
Next up for WSTA is “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” opening Oct. 11!