“The Legend of Georgia McBride” – Arizona Theatre Company

Theater Review – July 2, 2023

ATC’S “GEORGIA McBRIDE” IS FUN BUT COULD BETTER PROBE DIVERSE LIFESTYLES

“THE LEGEND OF GEORGIA McBRIDE”
Arizona Theatre Company, Stage West, Herberger Theater Center
Phoenix, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

Sit back, relax, and enjoy Arizona Theatre Company’s farewell Herberger Theater Center show, “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”  Written by Matthew Lopez, it is a well-produced comedy about female impersonators with some poignant references to the challenges of being gay hidden behind raucous comedy and pointed innuendo.

The play seems an odd choice for ATC. Perhaps it is being used to build new audiences who enjoy lighter fare and have avoided the company’s more multifaceted plays.  ATC must remember its loyal supporters who may be disappointed by this frail play that relies on obvious and often clumsy humor to make its point about diverse lifestyles.

Much of the problem lies in Lopez’s script.  The playwright dazzled London and New York with his multi-award-winning, three-part piece about contemporary gay life, “The Inheritance.”  In this much lighter play, Lopez writes in repetitious circles without making rich points like “The Inheritance” did about gay life.

“Georgia McBride” looks at a group of guys who make their living as female impersonators.  Into this mix, falls an unsuccessful Elvis imitator, Casey, who needs money for a baby and his errant spending habits.  The club where his Elvis show is being closed, hires a group of female impressionists to beef up business.  Casey substitutes for a performer and not only makes money but becomes entranced by playing female.  Complications develop with his partner but everything works out.

For ATC’s last Herberger show after many years at the downtown Phoenix venue, the company is presenting “Georgia McBride” in the facility’s smaller performing space, Stage West. It is probably a good choice considering there is much byplay between the performers and the audience.

The seven-member acting ensemble includes only one woman, Renea S. Brown, who does fine as the expectant mother.  The male performers have a field day flouncing and preening as they parade around in lush female gowns as they jab and badger each other.

Kevin Kantor makes a winning transition from a tired Elvis into a statuesque Georgia McBride.  Courter Simmons is an all-knowing Miss Tracy who arrives with the new show and takes Casey under their wing and helps transform him. Armand Fields astounds as moody Rexy while James Pickering evolves into a sparkling club owner after employing the new show.  Meredith McDonough’s sprightly staging adds gusto to the proceedings.

If lightweight, boisterous fare appeals, ATC’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is perfect.  If weightier plays have more appeal, wait for ATC’s new season of richer fare beginning in October at the Tempe Center for the Arts.  “Georgia McBride” continues through July 16 at the Herberger Theater Center.  Tickets may be purchased by calling the Arizona Theatre Company box office at 833-ATC-SEAT.

Grade: B

One Response to ““The Legend of Georgia McBride” – Arizona Theatre Company”

  1. Hector Coris said:

    Jul 03, 23 at 10:41

    Nice review!
    Curious: You refer to gay life as a “life choice”, or were you referring to choosing to become a female impersonator over his Elvis gig?