The (Wo)Man, the myth, the legend

By: Jarrett Fittro ~Guest Writer~

Photo courtesy of | Michael Gerard Carr (left) as Casey, Bruce Cromer (center) as Tracy Mills and Darnell Pierre Benjamin as Anorexia “Rexy” Nervosa star in Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s The Legend of Georgia McBride.

I was shook, I was shaken, I was stirred and I was absolutely living for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati’s (ETC) production of The Legend of Georgia McBride.

Already inspired by Director Lynn Meyers’ opening speech, I was whole-heartedly prepared for a night of laughs and entertainment. Going into the night, armed solely with the knowledge that I was about to see a show which focuses on drag queens, I was nowhere near prepared for the “drag-stravaganza” that the folks at ETC would be serving that night.

From the beginning, Casey (Michael Gerard Carr) and his wife Jo (Margaret Ivey) are the young couple everyone is rooting for. They’re classic examples of the underdogs in their journey through pregnancy and the loss of Casey’s job as an Elvis impersonator.

When down-on-theirluck drag queens Tracy Mills (Bruce Cromer) and Anorexia “Rexy” Nervosa (Darnell Pierre Benjamin) become the new acts at the club, chaos and hilarity ensue. As Casey is forced to don a dress and embrace the role of Edith Piaff, he discovers that not only is being a drag queen lucrative, it’s also filling the hole he has had since losing his Elvis gig.

The “drag-tastic” montage that follows shows us Casey (now billed as “Georgia McBride”) evolving and providing for his family until Jo shows up to the club in sitcom fashion and catches Casey in the act. The two have a falling out, and Casey finds himself confessing to an Ambien-filled Tracy that he was hiding his drag because it “made (him) feel like a fag.”

Thankfully, this show is a comedy, so our main man doesn’t spend too much time lamenting about his life and instead returns to the club for one final performance.

Afterwards, Jo shows up, realizing that under the makeup, the dress, the heels and the tape, that (even as Georgia) Casey is the man whom she’s in love with. They reunite, Casey continues his drag career and Tracy finally gets her bubble machine.

All-in-all, Georgia McBride is a very comedic and inventive piece that presents various styles and reasons for doing drag. However, in a time where educating the public on these different ways of living is so important, does the show do enough to educate the children? While the show could have been used to expose people to LGBTQ society, that wasn’t the playwright’s intent.

We’re still given a good dose of queer history when Rexy decides to enlighten the previously uninformed Casey, from the Stonewall riots to some of the figureheads of drag culture (R.I.P Lady Chablis).

If there is one major takeaway from the show (other than drag is fun), it’s how important it is to educate yourself and to know the LGBTQ martyrs and victims who fought through hate and intolerance to bring us to where we are now.

It is also reassuring to know that the fight still continues, and until kids like young Rexy are no longer being assaulted and everyone has the same right to life and love, we have to carry on and continue our efforts.

Hopefully, we see more shows like this not only being written but also being produced with the same amount of research, care and thought as this performance.