Having successfully toured over the past eight years including an award-winning stint Off-Broadway, The Legend of Georgia McBride makes it to the Bay Area and, surprisingly, it’s in Walnut Creek.
The only surprise really about Walnut Creek is most people don’t realize this city outside of San Francisco is more diverse than one would think. Yet this play about an Elvis impersonator who ends up becoming a drag queen was welcomed with open arms to the Lesher Center for the Arts and will play there through November 26, 2023.
The show is fresher and more current than ever and it boasts an amazing cast of five who all have their own moments to shine.
Joe Ayers plays straight Casey, who is losing his job as an Elvis as the theatre and staff can’t survive on an audience of seven people. Owner Eddie (the wonderful Alan Coyne) decides to go in a different direction and hires his drag queen relative Miss Tracy Mills to hopefully bring new life into the club. Alas, sidekick Rexy isn’t dependable and that’s where Casey is turned to in a pinch to fill in.
Casey’s biggest obstacle donning drag is his wife – played by Sundiata Ayinde, who is the most grounded character in the show and brings in realness and truth while everyone else lives in a fantasy of sorts.
The show has its typical straight man trying to walk in heels. But the writing from Matthew Lopez elevates the materials. Most theatergoers might know Lopez from his megahit that won Tony Awards Inheritance, which was on Broadway just a few seasons back.
However, the backbone of the show is J.A. Valentine as Miss Tracy Mills. Valentine is funny, vulnerable, strong, supportive and magnificent whether it’s in a tiny scene working out problems backstage of the drag show or grandiose doing her drag show on stage. Valentine is always memorable and draws you in – still vivid in my head is their wondrous turn a few years ago in the drag parody Bitch Slap.
The applause of the show continues with kudos to Elizabeth Carter. She manages to keep everyone from going over the top in their acting and utilizes all aspects of the sets.
The costume/props/staging staff of Becky Bodurtha, Alyssa Tryon and Randall K. Lum also need to be singled out – especially in the medley scene which advances time in the show.
For theatergoers seeking out alternative, diverse and LGBTQ+ content, don’t rule out Walnut Creek or the Lesher Center for the Arts. This isn’t the first time they represented us and it won’t be the last.
Get tickets and information here.