In ‘The Legend of Georgia McBride,’ Giving Tree Theater shows how to make a family

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The Legend of Georgia McBride

Giving Tree Theater — Through May 26

Kyle Shedeck, Scott Humeston in ‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’ at Giving Tree Theater. — courtesy Richie Akers

What does a failing Elvis impersonator do when faced with a growing family and bills to pay? The answer to this question can be found in Giving Tree Theater’s penultimate show, The Legend of Georgia McBride, a 2015 play by Matthew Lopez (The Whipping Man).

The show plays out on a three-part stage designed and lit by Richie Akers. Divided into thirds, the action moves from apartment to dressing room to stage.

The ensemble of this show — directed by Emma Drtina with assistance from Traci Rezabek — create a community that wants to make some money while having a little fun and performing. Given his choice, at least initially, Casey (Kyle Shedeck) wants that performance to be impersonating the King. But, when his show fails and a drag show takes over, Casey gradually becomes convinced that drag is the way to go.

Shedeck portrays a man trying to make ends meet while trying to be true to himself, but who ends up discovering new aspects of performance and himself. Shedeck’s performance is sincere and optimistic throughout.

Jo Jordan, Kyle Shedeck in ‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’ at Giving Tree Theater. — courtesy Richie Akers

Casey’s wife, Jo (played by Jo Jordan) is at once devoted to her husband and also concerned about their finances and future. It’s a place that isn’t unfamiliar, but the solution that her husband chooses doesn’t sit well with her — at least not at the start. Jordan offers a portrayal of an honest, complex woman. Together, Jordan and Shedeck create a couple that feels authentic.

Central to the storyline, of course, are the drag performers themselves, Scott Humeston is outstanding as Miss Tracy Mills, at once a struggling queen and a force of nature. Brady Hoback pulls double duty in the show, appearing as both Rexy and Jason, the landlord/semi-intrusive neighbor.

Both Humeston and Hoback combine to present a real look at drag: It’s not always pretty, polished and sassy. Drag is grueling, demanding and downright exhausting. Never fear, though: You’ll find plenty of humor and drag-related one-liners throughout the show.

(Front to back) Kyle Shedeck, Scott Humeston, Brady Hoback in ‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’ at Giving Tree Theater. — courtesy Richie Akers

Eddie (Scott Davidson) evolves from a desperate business owner to the house manager for a drag show pulling in full audiences every night. Davidson shows his character’s trajectory from gruff to exuberant, as the queens turn his failing business around.

By the end of the night, despite arguments and misunderstandings, all of the performers have truly created a new family, not unlike what Giving Tree Theater has done over the past five years. As most know, the Akers family is moving, but like the characters of Georgia McBride, we know that the family that has been created at this theater will last beyond the run of the show.

Join in the heartfelt fun over the next two weeks at Giving Tree Theater. Tickets are $26.

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