By Zita Lam
After enormous success off Broadway in 2015, ACT brought back the musical comedy The Legend of Georgia McBride to the stage once again. Written beautifully by Matthew Lopez, this is a sincere story that unveils the perception of whether being a drag is a choice. Its sassiness, wit, and indignation brings the audience into Cleo’s dive bar created by the production team. When the spotlight is on, people cheer not only for any drag queen, but a Florida legend, and her name is Georgia McBride.
In the Florida Panhandle, a young man named Casey (Adam Standley) is struggling through his career and personal life. His passion as an Elvis Presley impersonator doesn’t help business at Cleo’s bar nor his income to pay for rent and food. Miss Tracy Mills (Timothy Piggee) and her partner enter as grand dames of drag, who guarantee to bring fortunes to the club. Soon enough, Casey’s show is replaced by the pair. However, little does he know, his life is about to change completely by the influence of Miss Tracy. Ever since Casey takes on the role of a drag unexpectedly one night, he opens a door that leads to a new chapter of his. The more time Casey spends on putting on makeup and fancy platform pumps, the more he understands that being a drag performer is not a preference but a war to fight against the world. It is about finding and accepting an individual’s identity.
The play continues to breakdown the conflict between Casey’s “normal life” and his role as a drag queen. As Casey becomes a fierce drag performer, his relationships with his fiance Jo (Nastacia Guimont) and mentor Miss Tracy face a challenge. It is all followed by his failure of being a honest person, no matter if it is to Jo, to himself, or to the world. At the end of the day, one must know where his/her heart belongs and let it become what its meant to be.
Besides director David Bennett’s successful creation of this play, the production’s glamorous wardrobe is also a highlight of the show. Costume designer Pete Rush created a collection comprised of over 16 wigs, 40 costumes, 16 pairs of heels, and most importantly, a signature pair of roller skates. During the show, it contains 30 quick wardrobe changes. “If we do our job right, every scene there’s something new to look at.” Rush said in an interview from the programme, “At the end of the show, people will be like, ‘Oh my god, how many different things did we see?’ And that goes up to the finale…when every single character comes out in a brand new costume.”
The last time actor Adam Standley appeared in ACT was in Tribes, where he starred Daniel who suffered from emotional problems. As impersonating different accents are not difficult for Standley, he continuously impresses the audience with the ability to portray such intense characters. Showing his growth from a rookie to a pro, he combines his impressive acting depth of two different characteristics into one role.
Timothy Piggee’s acting performance in the show is also remarketable. He has appeared in many production at ACT as well as nationally on Broadway, the Denver Center Theatre Company, Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Portland Center stage, Kansas City Repertory Theatre and etc.. His portrayal of Miss Tracy is mature, thoughtful and charming. Every time the spotlight shined on him, people would forget he is an actor due to his natural ability to influence the atmosphere of the theatre and draws the audience into the story.