Plays that get life pumped into them early on through public readings at the Denver Center Theatre Company’s annual New Play Summit tend to pop a little louder when they finally make it to the stage, and this transformation to full realization has been especially challenging for director Mike Donahue and the four-man cast of Matthew Lopez’s musical comedy The Legend of Georgia McBride, which premieres tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the DCTC’s cozy Ricketson Theatre. Donahue, who’s been with the play since last February’s summit readings, says that building up the infrastructure for McBride — the story of an Elvis impersonator who decides to further his career by performing in drag — required heavy labor from the cast. The final work — which necessitated far more than building a set, making costumes and filling out a script — was preceded by a long period of intensive workshopping. “This is not an easy script to act,” notes Donahue. “There’s lots of text, humor and comedy, and they spend almost all of the show on stage, flipping between characters. Some have to create three people, flipping from one character to full drag queen on a dime. They have to go through massive costume changes in and out of full drag throughout the whole piece, half the time right on stage. And they had to learn all about walking in heels, shaving, padding, lip-synching and learning to put on their makeup themselves, which they have to be able to do on stage while acting.”
But the fun doesn’t stop on stage: The DCTC is adding new dimensions to the theater experience for McBride. “For the first time ever, Charlie Miller and Emily Tarquin of Off-Center@The Jones are taking a curatorial approach to the show,” Donahue explains. “There’s going to be a huge installation in the lobby with music and lights — something that’s really changing what the lobby looks like — and people will be able to take drinks into theater. And I can’t really say much about it now, but there will also be a special event in the lobby after every performance.”
Make a date night of it — everything’s provided, after all! The Legend of Georgia McBride runs daily except Mondays through February 23 at the Ricketson, in the Denver Performing Art Complex; purchase tickets, starting at $35, online at denvercenter.org or by calling 303-893-4100.
Fridays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, 1:30 & 7:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 6:30 p.m.; Feb. 7-8, 8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 9, 6:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 10. Continues through Feb. 23, 2014