Curtain Call remounts Georgia McBride and it was Legendary
Curtain Call Theatre has two more performances of a fantastic, laugh out loud comedy “The Legend of Georgia McBride” by the rising young playwright Matthew Lopez. They have already produced his powerful “The Whipping Man” a number of years ago and all of NYC awaits his new play “The Inheritance” which will arrive on Broadway this fall fresh off its Olivier Award-winning run in London.
Jo (Brooke Hutchins) and Casey (Matthew Reddick) are in the midst of a crisis when he enters the second scene of this effervescent comedy of transcendent discovery of self through performance as last night’s pizza lands at his feet. He fails to understand what he’s done wrong until he’s walked thru his mistake step by step by his frazzled wife until the offending act is revealed, paying Pizza Hut with the overworked debit card. “Welcome to the fight!” his wife triumphantly declares when the light bulb finally goes off for Casey.
They are young newlyweds, his passion for lip syncing to Elvis isn’t paying off, there are no opportunities to perform in Panama City, Florida except in community theatres and Jo announces she’s pregnant. Curtain Call Theatre is remounting their hugely successful, crowd-pleasing “The Legend of Georgia McBride” and everything in the production has improved. This scene especially which sets the plot in motion and sets the stakes for all that follows is especially fine. Hutchins and Reddick have a sweet, easy and thoroughly believable contentious yet comfortable relationship that moves like quicksilver.
At the club where Casey had been peddling his Elvis act (“more Ed Sullivan than Graceland” a character remarks) the owner Eddie’s cousin Bobby shows up as a replacement act. But now it’s “Miss Tracy Mills (Rocky Bonsal) when I’m working” and his gal pal Anorexia Nervosa (Emmett Ferris). Turns out Eddie has booked a drag show to try and turn business around and there’s no more need for blue suede shoes. Casey takes his place behind the bar as the girls take over until the fateful night when Rexy has drunk himself into a stupor and who will fill his size 12 heels as Edith Pilaf singing “Padam Padam?”
At this point the play takes off and finds the audience clapping along joyfully to every number offered by the newly christened Georgia McBride and Reddick who has been great all night in small moments-listening to his wife talk about how they could fail as parents and “their son would go to jail and their daughter become a stripper or worse, the opposite” or his discovery of his new breasts launches into physical comedy heaven negotiating his heels, dress and not least of all lip syncing a song in French he’s never heard before. Reddick wastes not a moment or gesture, he can be heart stoppingly effective when still and yet has a face of rubber with hysterical physical expressiveness as well. and It would be a star making performance if stars existed in the Capital Region, as it is it is the revelatory kind of thrill one gets from discovering gold in one of the region’s dozens of unheralded theatres.
Carol Max as producer and director has made a great number of improvements on the show along with her stellar technical crew from the set by Frank Oliva, costumes by Beth Ruman, lighting by Lily Fossner, choreography by Arlette St. Romain and stage management by Rebecca Gardner.
The cast is excellent, Rocky Bonsal has Tracy Mills down to a T and you can feel the actor breathe freely in the role, epitomizing one of the play’s major themes of finding yourself thorough performance so natural is he in the role. David Orr as Eddie has a rumpled good old boy manner which works terrifically whether he’s laying down the law or raising a toast. Brooke Hutchins is strong and soulful as Casey’s put- upon wife who shares some of the play’s most affecting moments with him. Certainly a highlight of the show this weekend was Emmett Ferris’s manifesto of drag performance and what it meant to his character as a young gay boy in Houston who confronts Casey who has supplanted him with “Do you know what Stonewall is?” The speech ends with “Drag is a raised fist in a sequined glove” reminding us that Stonewall was a riot and that every freedom that has led us to an older audience in Latham having a fantastic night out clapping along to “It’s Raining Men” has been bought and paid for with blood.
Drop everything and call 518-877-PLAY and get the last tickets to the final two shows tonight 6/28 and tomorrow 6/29 at 8PM. Happy Pride!
The Legend of Georgia McBride
By Matthew Lopez
Curtain Call Theatre
1 Jeanne Jugan Lane
Latham, NY 12065