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The Legend of Georgia McBride: Drag is the New Black

Published by Huffington Post on Sat, 12 Sep 2015

MCC's production of Matthew Lopez' The Legend of Georgia McBride at the Lucille Lortel in the village, like Kinky Boots on Broadway, features stunning high heeled footwear and over-the-top pastel wigs. Add to that padded rumps and sequined brassieres, sized triple D! Backstage at the Cleo bar in Florida's Panhandle, a sweet-faced Elvis impersonator, Casey (David Thomas Brown) re-fashions his studded jumpsuit into a dress and under the tutelage of the divine Tracy Mills (Matt McGrath), transforms. Voila! Dull as "The King," he's a dynamite Queen in drag. A Star is Born!Not just another drag show, entertaining and exuberant, exulting in the politics of self acceptance, the new play meshes well with a culture that has so recently accepted same sex marriage and the persona of Caitlin Jenner. At the opening night afterparty this week, at the historic Stonewall Inn, the writer, choreographer, and several cast members spoke about the fortuitous convergence of life and art.Playwright Matthew Lopez: I started working on the play four years ago when the world was different. We ran into the Zeitgeist while crossing the street. I wanted to write a love letter to drag. Coming to terms with my own sexuality as a teenager, I got to know drag queens in my hometown. Panama City, Florida, where the play is set. I wanted to write a play about blue-collar people not often depicted onstage. No, I never dressed in drag. I am not a performer. I leave that to the professionals. Part Auntie Mame, part Mama Rose, Matt McGrath as Tracy Mills gives Georgia McBride her name: Drag accentuates hyper-femininity. Everybody has to relax. People have psychological problems because they are not balanced. I played Hedwig, a rock show, which is different. A person in drag is trying to create an illusion. Choreographer Paul McGill worked with all the Hedwigs: Hedwig is more rock 'n' roll and self-loathing. She's trans, and this is drag. Hedwig is a woman; these are men in joyous, celebratory, over the top drag. It is different working with actors rather than dancers. With dancers, the emotion comes from the movement. With actors, each movement has to mean something to the story. Dave had never been in heels before. We put together steps to see where they could go.Dave Thomas Brown as Casey learns to dance and lipsync: I would not be a candidate for drag. I walked with Casey through this process. I never put on a dress before, was never a good dancer. Paul McGill taught me how to use my body to be a woman, not to put on a woman. When you strap on those heels and sit into that hip, the heel tells you how to walk, and it thrills me, as it does my character. Like Casey, I have to talk to my girlfriend about what I'm doing in this show: no, I'm not gay. When we started rehearsals same sex marriage became law. We are talking at the Stonewall Inn, where the first brick was thrown. A fellow performer, Anorexia Nervosa schools me: you are standing on the shoulders of people who bled, died, passed away from AIDS, and you're the straight man who gets to stand on top. I grew up in Winston Salem, North Carolina, son of a pastor who is supportive and open, the good kind of Christian. I would not have been able to do this character without my upbringing in the South. As Casey's girlfriend Jo, Afton Williamson, has to come around to accept her man's new gig: I am the only girl girl in the show. Jo is kind of the straight man in the comedy, a strong enough woman to make her man a strong woman. Because of her, he is the Beyonce of men!A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
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