Poor Casey. He’s just been fired from his job as an Elvis impersonator in a dive bar in the panhandle of Florida. But wait! There’s more… his wife is pregnant, the rent is due and unpaid bills are piling up. What’s a young dude to do? What else but trade in his Elvis jumpsuit for a sparkly dress, lip-sync some Shania and become the hottest drag act in the Southeast. It’s a tale as old as time. Sort of.
The Waterfront Playhouse will close their 2017/18 season with “The Legend of Georgia McBride” by Matthew Lopez, one of the most uplifting comedies you’ll experience. This 85-minute play with music is a celebration of finding your true voice. Variety called the play, “a delightful, gender-bending farce… funny and often glorious. Lopez delivers a strong message on tolerance for the entire spectrum of human sexuality, while creating a barrelful of fun in the process.”
Director Danny Weathers said, “I fell in love with this beautiful script the first time I read it. It’s smart, hilarious and full of heart. Plus, the show has three of Key West’s favorite things: fabulous drag queens, great music and Christopher Peterson. And I could not have asked for a better cast and crew — they’ve been a joy to work with.”
The play begins when Eddie, the good-old-boy owner of Cleo’s (the dive bar), decides to make some changes, including nixing Casey’s Elvis act since it’s playing to only seven people a night. Enter Eddie’s cousin, Miss Tracy Mills, or Bobby, when she’s not “working.” Tracy has big plans to turn the failing bar into a venue of fabulosity, featuring her and her friend, Rexy, with Casey as the hunky bartender.
One night when Rexy has had a few too many cosmos and passes out, Tracy and Eddie are desperate for a solution. Casey volunteers. After all, there are all those financial worries on his mind. The initial results are hilarious in a coup-de-drag that has to be seen to be believed.
Surprisingly, Casey is a natural and with expert coaching from Miss Tracy, Casey becomes “Georgia McBride,” a country drag star that helps make the bar a success. Along the way, there are plenty of conflicts, like when Casey’s pregnant wife Jo finds out about his secret drag life. But a happy ending is inevitable.
Adding to the fun of the evening are full-blown drag numbers performed to the music of iconic ladies of showbiz, disco, country rock and… French cabaret. Don’t ask. The show ends with a glorious finale performed by all of the characters that will have audiences dancing in the aisles.
In addition to the great Christopher Peterson, who plays Miss Tracy Mills, the cast includes New York actor Nate Janis, who has been brought in to play the multifaceted role of Casey. Phillip Cole White performs the dual roles of Rexy and Jason. Phillip had a recent triumph as Hedwig in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at the Key West Theater. Simoné Elizabeth Bart will play Casey’s wife, Jo. Bart was in the Waterfront’s hit “Good People” last season. Finally, there’s John Reynolds who plays the bar owner, Eddie. John has appeared at the Waterfront in “Enchanted April,” “The Trip to Bountiful” and “1776.”
Matthew Lopez, the playwright of “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” is one of the hottest young playwrights in the theater today. He recently opened “Inheritance” with Vanessa Redgrave in London, which was hailed as “the greatest play of the new century” by The Guardian. “Georgia” is in the top 10 plays produced regionally this season. The original production featured Matt McGrath, who won numerous awards for his performance in “Georgia.” Mr. McGrath appeared at the Waterfront in “Mothers and Sons,” directed by Murphy Davis a few seasons ago.
Michael Boyer has designed the backstage and onstage world of Cleo’s bar. John Jaworski will design the lighting, Benn Pegg sound, Carmen Rodriguez props and Danny Weathers the music. Annie Miners (also assistant director) and Peggy Montgomery are the busy dressers. Trish Manley acts as stage manager.
The costume design has taken a village. Fortunately, the many costumes will come from designs by Sushi and Christopher Peterson and Carmen Rodriguez.
All performances are at 8 p.m.
Tickets are $45 and are available at www.waterfrontplayhouse.org or at 305- 294-5015. ¦