‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’ is an engaging experience

Jo (Alexandra Slade) tries to decipher from Casey (Spencer Bang) just how he earned the rent money for Jason (Chesley Polk). Daren Scott photos

Elizabeth Youngman-Westphal
Special to the Village News

Mature audiences with a grand sense of humor need to see the newest sparkling creation at The Cygnet Theatre. “The Legend of Georgia McBride” is wrapped in feathers and sequins. It is a knock out!

Fast paced and energetic from start to finish, this engaging story features true life experiences interpreted by a talented cast.

In the past, resident artist Sean Fanning has created some of the most magical set designs anywhere. His more recent include “Animal Crackers”, “Shockeheaded Peter” and “On The Twentieth Century” – all on the Cygnet stage.

That is why it was unexpected to see such an ugly arrangement on stage upon entering the Cygnet theatre opening night Oct. 12 for “The Legend of Georgia McBride”. Yet, as in times past, Fanning excites the imagination with his creation. The set works perfectly.   

Playwright Mathew Lopez introduces us to a cast of personalities guaranteed to delight, dazzle and encharm us. Winner of various awards for his creative approach to storytelling, Lopez has set this show in the humid climates of the Florida panhandle in a struggling, dilapidated bar.

As unlikely as it might seem Casey (Spencer Bang) is determined to make a go of his performance career as an Elvis impersonator especially after learning of his impending fatherhood. Fate, however, has a different direction in mind.

Spencer Bang wows with his spirit and enthusiasm. He is genuinely engaging and pulls focus with a feisty glint and rakish smile. Lithe of foot with a devilish demeanor, Bang demonstrates how to engage stage love with heart.

Casey’s alluring wife Jo (Alexandra Slade) makes her Cygnet debut with aplomb. Captivating throughout, she displays her love for Casey as we watch them struggle as a young couple trapped in the bewilderment of lost dreams.  A favorite moment is when Jo says, “you are prettier than I am”.  A moment that all pregnant women can relate to.

While supported by only a few regulars, Eddie (Lance Carter) is fraught to keep his joint open. Carter is appealing as we watch him mature into a successful entrepreneur.

With Casey as his only draw, Eddie is desperate to save his dingy watering hole when opportunity shimmies in. Miss Tracy Mills (David McBean) proves to be the answer. McBean plays Tracy like a friend. He embraces her in his every move and nuance. With no apologies, he lifts Tracy up and makes her the wonderful person she is.

And then there is that rascal Rexy. What a mess she is. Played by Chesley Polk in a dual role also as brother/landlord to Casey, Polk defines each character with autonomy and pizazz.

Even though the cast is small, this story isn’t. Nor the shared experiences enjoyed by the supportive audience. Engaging, uplifting and remarkably au courant, this delightful story unfolds before you in one hour and 45 minutes. It is nonstop.

Director Sean Murray proves himself again as he directs this cutting-edge show through its paces. Choreographed by Lucas Jacobs with pulsating, show-stopping, over the top, production numbers, he brings on an electric-vibrancy throughout. Peter Herman had all the fun with hair, wigs and make up. All were terrific!

Kyle Montgomery is known for his amazing lighting designs and works his magic along with superior sound by Dylan Nielsen.

Costume designer Jennifer Brawn Gittings should be heralded for her clever and stunning designs. She and her assistant, Carmen Amon, are to be celebrated for their endless hours of sequin-wrapped fruity head pieces.

“The Legend of Georgia McBride” is an incredible theatrical experience which keeps the audience engaged all the way to the standing ovation.

Playing through Sunday, Nov. 12, seven performances each week, at the Cygnet Theatre, 4040 Twiggs St, Old Town San Diego.  Arrive early to find free parking or take the Coaster to Old Town.  Box Office: (619) 337-1525, www.cygnettheatre.com. 

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