Next week will mark the 19th anniversary of the closing of Finocchio’s, the fabled San Francisco female impersonators club. One thing it helped to do was spread the acceptance of what we call drag queens — men who dress up, makeup and act up as women for our entertainment. Visitors from all over came to Finocchio’s to gawk and gasp and laugh and ask,”What’s wrong with that?” Dude looks like a lady. So?
“The Legend of Georgia McBride,” now at the B Street Theatre through Dec. 9, is a humorous — and totally open and accepting — look at these special entertainers. It also looks at another type of impersonator: the would-be Elvis Presley performer. It starts as a clash between The King and a small troupe of drag artists for performance rights in a small Florida bar. Elvis loses, but that’s all right, mama. There’s a solution — difficult for him at first — but ultimately rewarding in ways no one would imagine.
Jon Kovach, good-looking and good-natured, stars as Casey, an Elvis impersonator slowly but surely crafting an Elvis act he can be proud of. If only there were more than seven people in the audience most nights. Enter Cameron Folmar and Kevin Kantor as Miss Tracy Mills and Miss Anorexia Nervosa (Rexy), respectively. They can draw larger crowds despite Eddie’s Panama City bar not being a gay club (showing the increased acceptance of gay entertainers). It helps that Miss Tracy is related to club owner Eddie (Dave Pierini), too.
In quick succession, Casey loses his entertainment role and is demoted to barkeep, Miss Rexy is debilitated by alcohol and has to be replaced in the show and Casey reluctantly steps into her shoes — or tries to. His first drag performance is as a French singer he’s never heard of (whom he calls “Edith Pee-off”), pantomiming to a French recording. He soon learns that his wife Jo (Danielle Mone Truitt) is pregnant and he unwisely decides to keep his new employment a secret.
His thinking in this as like that of many who question the masculinity of a man who performs in drag. But Kovach is powerfully convincing as an unquestioning straight country boy coming around to the realization that an entertainer has to entertain, that a dress is just a dress, and “a man’s a man for a that,” as Robert Burns would say.
Jerry Montoya directs Ron Dumonchelle’s lighting design effectively highlights musical performances and entrances and exits, and Samantha Reno’s set design is simple but highly effective as it transforms from backstage to center-stage to home.
Performances are at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays, 2 and 6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, 5 and 9 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Dec. 9. B Street Theatre is at 2700 Capitol Ave., in the Sofia Tsakopoulos Cener for the Arts. Tickets are $28-$47.
For more information, call (916) 443-5300 or go to BStreettheatre.org.