‘Legend of Georgia McBride,’ ‘Exit Strategy’ hit Atlanta

Actor Nick Arapoglou jokes that he often finds himself in roles where he has to do a little bit of everything, including some quirky requests. In Horizon Theatre Company’s “Avenue Q,” he handled extensive puppetry and in “The Toxic Avenger” (also at Horizon), he spent much of his time in a big green slimy costume. In Matthew Lopez’s new music-filled comedy “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” opening March 18 at Actor’s Express, he stretches again, playing the guitar, singing, doing drag and playing a character not afraid to make an ass of himself.

His character Casey is an Elvis impersonator working at a bar in the Florida panhandle. Although he loves his job, the crowds are small. With a pregnant wife at home and needing money (and more job security), he decides to fill in for a drag queen who is too drunk to perform, despite the fact that he has no experience.

“At first, he has no clue about what drag is, or about the culture,” Arapoglou said. “He is absolutely terrified. It’s a lot of fun, because you can clearly see the character getting stressed out. It’s a little uncomfortable and his masculinity is being threatened. The challenge for him is the love of performing versus having a wife ask why he is doing what he does to make money. He is not homophobic, but there is a fear of what you don’t know.”

The actor admits the experience has been eye-opening, seeing drag as the art form it is.

“I am still learning about it,” he said. “There was much I did not know about it. I thought it was more about the makeup and costume, but you have to get the walk down and the character. Every character has his or her aesthetic. There are all shapes and sizes. You have to learn to walk in heels. It’s about morphing into someone else, but keeping some of yourself in.”

He has become a fan of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” of late and he and the cast – including Jeff McKerley, who plays fellow drag performer Miss Tracy Mills – plan to visit local drag shows.

‘Exit Strategy’ coming to True Colors

Another show of interest to the LGBT community is Ike Holter’s “Exit Strategy,” being staged by True Colors Theatre Company. Actor Matt Busch plays Ricky, an assistant principal in a school having to close down. As it does, tensions flare in the district, and he is tasked with dealing with all the teachers and their various reactions.

The character is gay, something the audience discovers very early on, but who he is in a relationship with is not widely known by his colleagues.

“Ricky is uncomfortable showing affection in the workplace, in case it is perceived as an inappropriate relationship,” Busch said. “He pretends that people don’t know about him when in fact they do.”
As part of his research, he talked to fellow administrators to get their take on how internal relationships are perceived – and what happens when they are unearthed, as it does in the context of this acclaimed work.

“The Legend of Georgia McBride”
March 18 – April 16
Actor’s Express
887 W. Marietta St., Atlanta, GA 30318

“Exit Strategy”
Through March 18
True Colors Theatre Company at Southwest Arts Center
915 New Hope Road. S.W., Atlanta, GA 30331