Heart & Heels: The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Geffen Playhouse

Beyond the sequins and camp humor and torch songs, The Legend of Georgia McBride, written by Matthew Lopez and directed by Mike Donahue, is a rousing statement about self-acceptance, unconditionality, and the courage of drag.  That this talented ensemble of five, helmed by the hunky (almost always bare-chested) Andrew Burnap manages to make two-hours fleet by, is more proof of its charm and appeal.

McGrath and Burnap in The Legend of Georgia McBride. Photo: Jeff Lorch.

Casey (Burnap) is a struggling Elvis impersonator, soon-to-be father, and now, an accidental drag queen at dive bar, Cleo’s where the proprietor (Nick Searcy) has just taken on two other, larger-than-life, veteran drag queens — the grand, nurturing Miss Tracy Mills (Matt McGrath, who steals the show) and sass and vodka-loaded, Miss Rexy (Larry Powell, equally good in and out of drag). Problem is, although they’re starting to turn the almost bankrupt bar around and Casey is feeling more realized in his bra and stockings than the King’s white pantsuit, it’s all a big secret from his baby-mama, Jo (played tenderly by Nija Okoro). In other words, the falsies are feeling way too real and the truth has become hard to reveal.  The parallels between this and the “gay-for-pay” arrangement are striking.

There is enough heart and hilarity here to warrant a second viewing, and it would ruin the pleasure to reveal the drag performances in store.  Be prepared to dance it up in your seats and, more importantly, to walk away contemplating the self-respect and courage behind the camp and glamor.

The Legend of Georgia McBride plays at the Geffen Playhouse through 5/14.

— Ghalib Dhalla.