Rep's "Legend of Georgia McBride" is more than a good time
Casey is a man with Southern roots and a desire to be the best Elvis impersonator he can possibly be, but he quickly learns that life performing at a Panama City, Florida dive bar isn't exactly paying the bills – literally. Determined to take care of his growing family and end financial arguments with his wife, Casey is forced to take on a new, unexpected persona: a drag queen he hastily names Georgia McBride.
The Milwaukee Rep's Quadracci Powerhouse was full of clapping, seat dancing, giggles and a little bit of glitter at "The Legend of Georgia McBride," written by Matthew Lopez. While the production has its fair share of drama, it is equal parts comedy and musical as Casey, played by Kevin Kantor, comes into his own as a drag performer with the help of his "drag mom" Miss Tracy Mills, played by Courter Simmons.
The audience was captivated by costume and wig changes plus a fair amount of shade amongst the queens – but greater than the musical numbers and witty exchanges were the messages of inclusivity, the education on the disrespect surrounding the appropriation of a culture or identity, and LGBTQ history.
Rep-in-Depth, a pre-show welcome and interaction with audience members featuring actor Kevin Kantor, spoke not only of what to expect at showtime but also addressed drag as being rooted in "political activism." Drag has become more mainstream within pop culture, but the history of drag connects with a form of "art activism," Kantor noted, encouraging the audience to open their hearts and minds to communities that are unlike their own and engage. Kantor also passionately encouraged visiting the local drag scenes and being open to learning – the performer's words mirroring that of the dialogue in the play, such as Miss Tracy Mills comedically yet intentionally demanding the respectful usage of her correct pronouns and Anorexia "Rexy" Nervosa's complete read of McBride on her lack of knowledge of drag and LGBTQ history.
I love the thought-provoking productions that The Rep brings to the city, but the community engagement programs that accompany the productions bring so much more to Milwaukee.
"The Legend of Georgia McBride" runs at the Milwaukee Rep from now through Sunday, Feb. 9. For more information on community engagement events, including meeting some of Milwaukee's very own queens, visit the Rep's website. And when you attend any upcoming "McBride" events and performances, be entertained. Laugh. Dance. Tip your queens. But also be enlightened. In the words of Miss Rexy, "Drag ain't a night job. Drag is a protest. Drag is a raised fist inside a sequined glove."
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