‘The Legend of Georgia McBride’ a quirky, fun and freakish musical

Here’s a timely play that entertains as opposed to politicizing a potentially divisive issue. Get  ready to laugh as a synergetic ensemble takes the stage at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in The Legend of Georgia McBride, running through May 15.

The story is a great setup for musical comedy. Lovable underachiever Casey (Christian Ray Robinson) has a solid Elvis act at a Panama City, Florida dive bar, but his audience is dwindling. Scruffy bar owner Eddie (Jeffrey Roark) is determined to save the Cleo Lounge and replaces Casey’s act with a flashy drag show.

Enter the flamboyant Miss Tracy Mills (Nathan Halvorson) and booze-infused sidekick Anorexia “Rexy” Nervosa (Micah Mims) as a duo of old-school drag queens intent on a comeback. Played with gender-bending irreverence by Halvorson (an FAC onstage regular and its artistic director) this versatile actor  successfully channels the likes of Nathan Lane in 1996’s The Bird Cage. With wigs, slinky attire and ample padding, Halvorson and FAC newcomer Mims strut and sashay their queen personas convincingly.

Late on the rent and his wife announcing a baby on the way, a desperate Casey reluctantly transforms into an all-out queen, switching out the sequined jumpsuit for the size 11 heels. With the wolves at his door, he hides his newfound profession from his wife Jo (Zina Ellis) until the deception is exposed. Here, the story drags, but the actors’ collective talent overshadows this reviewer’s regular complaint: less can be more, get on with the good stuff and just entertain us!

Clever staging shifts the scenes effortlessly from The Cleo’s tinseled mainstage to the austere dressing room of the larger-than life egos of the queens. Halvorson struts in garish garb delivering snappy zingers that reflect both the tragedy and triumphs of a career that isn’t always chosen — or, in Casey’s case, a default mode that runs afoul of his lifestyle.

A third set is the apartment Casey and Jo share. The interaction between these two is stiff and awkward, eclipsed by the larger-than-life queens. It is a necessary backdrop to advance the storyline, but the audience is eager for the stage again: the lights, music and campy antics of the queens.

As conflicts are resolved, well-rehearsed lip-synching, showy costumes and flashy dance numbers light up the house as the peacocking drag queen trio take center stage with hilarity. Think ’60s comic icon Carol Channing’s gravelly vocals, a couple disco-era numbers and more sequins! Mims excels in his portrayal of Rex, with superb stage presence and dance moves that define the spectacle that is Georgia.

The Legend of Georgia McBride offers equal parts humor and depth — its gaudiness not compromising its genuineness. It’s a quirky and freakish musical about how people can land on paths off the grid. Drag is both an act of defiance for the performer and curious sideshow for the audience. Do not think too deep, just go, and enjoy something slightly out there.