The Legend of Georgia McBride: Toot

publicity photo for The Legend of Georgia McBride

Do we care about these two? Yep. Monice Peters as Jo and Jacob Woike as Casey.
(Photo by Moonrider Productions)

The script is mixed up and the production is inconsistent, but this show is fun — and that counts for a lot.

In The Legend of Georgia McBride, playwright Matthew López tells the story of an Elvis impersonator named Casey who’s struggling — and failing — to make a living in a little club on the Florida panhandle. Casey’s wife Jo is newly pregnant and they’ve missed their rent payments two months in a row. So the stakes are about as high as in The Perils of Pauline. But, when one of the queens in the two-person drag duo that’s supposed to replace him passes out drunk and can’t go on, Casey slips into a pair of heels, goes onstage as an instant drag artist, and starts to accumulate a lucrative following.

To be clear, Casey’s success in this show-must-go-on scenario isn’t remotely plausible, but it is good natured. And the next section, in which the script backs up and Casey’s mentor, an older queen named Tracy, works with him on building his skills and persona, is some kind of wonderful.

It’s wonderful because the script’s set-up and the affability of the performers unleash a tidal wave of good will from the audience. As written by López and fulsomely embodied by actor Jacob Woike, Casey is a sweet doofus, an irresponsible optimist who loves his wife with every cell of his being and picks up his guitar to sing her the song he wrote for her.

In a very smart move, López has allowed us to witness Casey’s transformation from the underwear up — starting with his tighty whities, and adding stockings, hip pads, cinching, and fake boobs. The process feels intimate. And, as Casey starts to develop more skills, glamour — and confidence — in a series of short scenes that alternate backstage prep and onstage performance, we are pulling for the guy. The night I was there, by the time Casey had acquired his drag name, Georgia McBride, and worked his Elvis swivel into sassy, girlishness, the audience was going wild. I knew I was being manipulated. I still had goosebumps.

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