If I were not a Northlight subscriber, I might have missed the opportunity of seeing “The Legend of Georgia McBride”, currently playing at Northlight Theatre in Skokie, Illinois, through October 22, 2017. To be completely honest, I found both the title and information about the play a bit uncomfortable. That was before I saw it. The production is excellent. It is intriguing, honest, and fascinating and highly recommended.
Under the direction of Artistic Director BJ Jones and Executive Director Timothy J. Evans, Northlight Theatre presents the Chicago Premiere of The Legend of Georgia McBride, written by Matthew Lopez, directed by Lauren Shouse. Matthew Lopez is the author of The Whipping Man, one of the most widely-produced American plays of the last decade. The Legend of Georgia McBride premiered at the Denver Center and then produced in New York by MCC and in Los Angeles at the Geffen Playhouse.
This is the story of a young man Nate Santana (Casey) fiercely in love with his wife Leslie Ann Sheppard (Jo), who learns she is pregnant. He has almost been bringing in enough money to help pay rent and expenses working as an Elvis impersonator and learns he will be replaced by a drag show that takes over the entertainment at the Florida Panhandle bar where he was performing. Unless he’s willing to step into some high heels and fill in as a drag performer, he will be thrown out of his rented house.
As the story progresses, topics of sexual identity and sexuality are explored. What you see isn’t always the way you think it is.
This play is charming and very funny. The cast is multi – talented, and very skilled. The rest of cast of The Legend of Georgia McBride includes Sean Blake (Miss Tracy Mills), Keith Kupferer (Eddie), Jeff Kurysz (Rexy/Jason).
The creative team includes Chris Carter (Choreography), Richard and Jacqueline Penrod (Scenic Design), Rachel Laritz (Costume Design), JR Lederle (Lighting Design), Kevin O’Donnell (Sound Design). The production stage manager is Rita Vreeland. The set, costumes, lighting and sound carried the action forward.
The story is uplifting and heartwarming. The changes that took places as Casey learns how to be a drag queen – in his look, body movements and costumes were fascinating. The changes in the relationships felt right and felt good. The characters were well developed.
After the performance, the audience was invited to a discussion which enriched the experience. Nate Santana (Casey) and Sean Blake (Miss Tracy Mills), were asked about their reaction to wearing heels and the answers were very interesting. Nate said this was his first experience with drag, while Sean had played in other productions where he was in drag. There was some discussion of what it was like to look in the mirror and see a new persona.
In the lobby, I happened to speak with Sean briefly. He expressed that this was the best play and the best cast. He also said that if was ever to be in this production in the future, it would have to be with this cast because they work so well together. When I told him how good I thought the play was, he said to be sure to tell all my friends- and so I am.
More information about this and future productions can be found on the Northlight website
The Box Office is located at 9501 Skokie Blvd, Skokie, 847.673.6300
Photos: Michael Courier
Northlight’s production of The Legend of Georgia McBride is supported in part by Bob and Lisa Silverman.