'The Legend of Georgia McBride' :: Discovering Elvis... and High Heels

by Lisa Lipsey

Rage Monthly

Sunday October 8, 2017

Cygnet Theatre is now in rehearsals for the San Diego premiere of the witty, sequin-filled musical comedy "The Legend of Georgia McBride."Written by Obie award-winning playwright Matthew Lopez ("The Whipping Man"), the show brings both sass and meaningful storytelling.

"The real center of the story is about people finding their heart, finding what they do well, and finding family," says Cygnet Artistic Director Sean Murray. "It's an irresistibly fun and sassy show with a lot of great performance numbers... all wrapped up in fabulous gowns and smartly accessorized!"

Lopez's central protagonist is the boyish and charming Casey-he's young, broke and about to be a father-he also just lost his job as an Elvis impersonator. His boss needs a new act to draw customers to the club. That's when Miss Tracy Mills (Cygnet's David McBean) arrives on the scene to lead the club's new drag show. Casey is given the opportunity to trade one sequined outfit for another.

Spencer Bang, a graduate of University of North Carolina School of the Arts, has been in theatre his whole life. "It is weird to refer to life as 'my whole life,' but it's true. I have been in theatre since I was eight years old." Making his Cygnet debut as Casey, Bang is boyishly charming himself and is the perfect fit. "We are about halfway through the staging of this beast, it is awesome and crazy... The process is really fantastic. This is my first time trying on high heels for a professional theatre job," offered Bang. "I mean, personally, I have worn them once or twice."

Bang's favorite part of the Casey character? "Discovering his charisma. I am figuring out what about his stories provokes certain actions. It's like I have been given a sandbox, building the topography and then putting in the water to see where it runs. Then I put all of that topography inside my body. I'm creating a human being, I'm figuring out the circumstances that created that human being. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but that's how I see it."

In prepping for the role, Bang said, "I have been on a steady diet of drag and Elvis. I've been watching a lot of his live performances and interviews, he is so cool, he's a god. I've been watching 'RuPaul's Drag Race' and exploring films like 'Tootsie,' 'Priscilla Queen of the Desert' and 'To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar.' "

Continues Bang, "Beyond the blast of color, music and drama, the show is about drag queens and focuses on the people behind drag, and that is something that deserves to be seen and is important. Sean [Murray] also recommended 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World' and 'Gypsy,' and if you love 'Gypsy,' there is a sequence in this show that pays homage to it."

Once the curtain closes on Georgia McBride, Bang will return to New York. "I have been cast in an Indie film whose fate remains undecided at the moment. I am also a writer and I applied for the Emerging Writers Group at the Public Theatre in NYC and really, really want that." For now, Bang says, "I have not been exploring yet. I have a granny flat behind the house of this lovely woman Holly, near the Cygnet. However, most recently I spent 45 minutes in a dimly lit Asian massage parlor. It felt like a David Lynch movie with eerie ambient music playing, but it was a nice massage. I love kayaking, but I haven't done that yet. Mostly, I spend my time working on this show, or being anxious about not working."

"The Legend of Georgia McBride" runs Saturday, October 14 through Sunday, November 12 at the Cygnet Theatre in Old Town. Join your fellow

members from the LGBT community for an Out Night on Wednesday, October 18. For tickets and more info, call 619.337.1525, or go to cygnettheatre.com

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