Total Rating: 
June 8, 2017
July 2, 2017
San Francisco
Marin Theater Company
Theater Type: 
Marin Theater Company
Theater Address: 
397 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley
Matthew Lopez

As part of the American Theater Critics Association’s recent conference in San Francisco, a small group of board members took in a performance of Marin Theater Company’s The Legend of Georgia McBride. It was, to tell the gosh-darn honest truth, a mixed blessing.

In fact, commuting back to Frisco, we had a lively discussion with colleagues commenting on productions of Georgia McBride in their own regions of the nation. For example, there are, by now, some well-vetted arguments primarily about casting for this play. So, just how straight do you want the leading man to be? By a quirk Casey (Adam Magill) the down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator, who blew the rent on a slice of pizza, has a chance to bring home the bacon in a drag show. The twist is that he doesn't tell his pregnant wife where he is getting all that cash. And, would you believe it? he has a real following. Is he getting into the drag scene, for whatever reason, or just working a job? As a fellow artist reveals to him, drag is not just a means of making a living but a way of life.

Many plot points and character developments, particularly the wife (played by Tatiana Wechsler), are inadequately directed by Kent Gash. Colleagues state that, done right, this can be a really funny, moving, and terrific show. It's why there are so many productions, and this one is selling well and has been extended. The costumes designed by Kara Harmon, for example, OMG! Fabulous!

At an ATCA tech panel, one of the presenters, Abra Bergman, was a renowned costume designer. I asked her about the play. She worked on an aspect of the show giving the guys curves. It seems that a team of eight was in stitches, so to speak, day and night for several weeks. But, my friends, it takes more than a dress, makeup, wigs and falsies to turn a man into a woman.

Knowing that this was a play by Matthew Lopez, we may have had elevated expectations. We saw his superb The Whipping Man in the Berkshires and Indianapolis. That play was produced all over the country as is this one.

Another question making the rounds is why the company didn't opt for a couple of real drag queens for this show? Two answers: the first is that this is a play, dammit, and female impersonators aren't necessarily actors. The second and more surprising one is that all of the Bay Area drag artists are fully booked. In Frisco it's an out-of-the-cottage industry.

There were definitely enjoyable aspects of this production as an evening of pure entertainment. Mostly, though, it was, shall we say, nip and tuck.

Eddie (John R. Lewis), Casey, (Adam Magill), Jo (Tatiana Wechsler), Miss Tracy Mills (Kraig Swartz), Rexy/Jason (Jason Kapoor)
Charles Giuliano
Date Reviewed: 
June 2017