Publisher: Elizabeth Hurd / Managing Director: Adrienne Proctor / Editor: Jillian Pritchard Ball

Legendary Laughs for Carpenter Square’s “The Legend of Georgia McBride”

Casey (Derek Kenney) works as an Elvis impersonator until he gets fired at Cleo’s Bar on the Beach. Matthew Lopez’ comedy is about a young married man who is a down-on-his-luck Elvis impersonator and is induced to turn his jumpsuits into dresses and become a drag queen. It opens Carpenter Square Theatre’s 36th Season, and plays September 6-28 at the theater located at 800 W. Main in downtown Oklahoma City. For information, visit carpentersquare.com, and for reservations, call 405-232-6500.

Carpenter Square is a long-standing purveyor of edgy and delectable community theatre in Oklahoma City.  The current production “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is an entertaining example of the essence of community theatre.  One of the most important aspects in any theatrical presentation, whether it be a professional Broadway production or a slap-dash high school production, is the fun factor.  The audience has more fun when the actors are having fun, and this production is an excellent example of a group of talented show-offs in community theatre having a blast.   The audience has a blast too. 

“The Legend of Georgia McBride” is the story of a young performer, Casey, trying to make a go as an Elvis impersonator at a rather seedy Florida bar.  His young wife has a real job, but they are not always able to pay the rent and things are becoming desperate—Casey’s wife Jo is expecting!  There may be a bun in the oven, but there is no flour in the pantry and no dough in the fridge!  Eddie, Casey’s boss and owner of the bar, must let his failing Elvis impersonator go to make room for an act with more potential.  In desperation, Casey elects to stay on as a bartender.  The new act stars Miss Tracy Mills, a talented drag queen nearing the possible end of her career.  Her partner, Rexy (Miss Anorexia Nervosa) is quite the tippler.  The evening receipts are improving with the new act, and the show must go on but Rexy is too soused to appear.  Casey finds himself volunteering to take her place.  Permanently.  Does he dare tell his wife, Jo, that he has graduated from Elvis impersonator to drag queen?  Playwright Matthew Lopez certainly sets up a hilarious situation, and director, Rhonda Clark has a cast determined to make the most of the script.

Miss Tracy Mills, Casey, and Eddie toast to the success of the new drag show at Eddie’s Florida panhandle bar. Pictured left to right are Mark Ingham, Derek Kenney, and Paul Austin.

The production stars Derek Kenney as Casey, our hapless Elvis/drag queen.  His fertile young wife Jo is played by Madeline Young and his best friend turned landlord, Jason, is played by Johnlee Lookingglass.  The bar owner, Eddie is portrayed by Paul Austin.  Miss Tracy Mills is played by Mark Ingham and Rexy is brought to vivid life by Mark Fairchild.  The most obvious trait these actors share is they are having a whale of a good time in their roles.  It seems that all performance-oriented men, regardless of their personal orientation, enjoy dressing up in drag.  It allows them an alter ego.  This cast is having so much fun that it infects the audience with hilarity.  Fun and entertainment are, after all, the primary attraction for theatre patrons.

Each actor has one or two special moments of great humor.  Notable among those moments is a glance into reverie from Johnlee Lookingglass, the simple transformation that occurs when Paul Austin dons a shiny red sport coat, and the fluttering of impossibly thick eyelashes by Mark Fairchild.  But paramount is the entire performance of Mark Ingham.  He gives Miss Tracy Mills the perfectly uncoordinated movement emanating from the heart of a true woman of the world and each moment of his appearance is hysterically funny.

Rhonda Clark directs “The Legend of Georgia McBride” skillfully with assistance from a great technical staff. Set designer, Ben Hall, creates three defined spaces: a bar, a dressing room and a home that flows easily from area to area naturally.  Jay C. Schardt’s lighting and Clark’s costumes are appropriate and add to the humor for the characters.  Johnlee Lookingglass is as smooth and competent a stage manager as he is an actor.

Miss Rexy Nervosa and Miss Tracy Mills survey the dive bar where they’ll soon be creating a drag show

Lobby Art for “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is furnished by painter Kerry Billington. His extremely vibrant landscapes and visionary animal portraiture are very impressive, and worthy of a stroll through the lobby gallery at Carpenter Square through the run of the show.

“The Legend of Georgia McBride” plays at Carpenter Square Theatre at 800 West Main.  Curtain is 7:30 pm Thursday September 18, 2019, 8:00 pm every Friday and Saturday through September 28, 2019, with a Sunday matinee at 2:00 pm September 22, 2019.  Visit www.carpentersquare.com or call 405-232-6500 for tickets and information.