In StageCoach Theatre Company’s recent production Legends and Bridge, playwright C. Stephen Foster imagines the iconic trainwreck if big-screen divas Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and Bette Davis got together to devise a comeback. Massive egos, jealousy, and bitterness reign as the former screen queens catfight their way through the back-stabbing comedy.
The art of impersonation is the highlight of the show. The actors emulate the legends with their appearance, attire, mannerisms, and vocal cadence to good effect, and it is this aspect of the show that provides the most entertainment.
Anja Dick (Ryan Kincade’s drag alter-ego) plays Joan Crawford, who has invited Judy Garland (Stacy Crickmer) and Bette Davis (Erika Horton) to her apartment in Manhattan to pitch a “secret” project in the hopes of reviving their careers. All seems promising until the script is finally presented, revealing Joan as Saint Joan the lead, Bette as her mother, and Judy as the “voices in her head” with zero face time in the production. Insults fly, there’s a touch of crying, a little pyromania, and, as the title promises, bridge.
The material relies heavily on many of the stars’ known weaknesses, insecurities, and triggers. Dick’s Joan leads with a conversation over the phone with her daughter, berating her for a horrible performance in her last show and risking damage to the Crawford name. There’s humor in the scene because of what we know of Joan from Mommy Dearest as a mother, but there’s a touch of mockery too of this imperfect person who lived on a pedestal. Anja Dick does a good job creating Joan’s costume and makeup and carries the character with grace and confidence.
Judy is known for her mile-a-minute talking and drug addiction, which resulted in drastic weight fluctuations. So Crickmer’s Judy begrudgingly pedals on a stationary bike and drinks incessantly. Crickmer does a lovely job capturing the meter of Judy’s voice, and her high energy and facial expressions. No one can do Judy Garland better than Judy Garland, but Crickmer does her justice and matches her distinct physicality.
Horton’s Bette highlights the screen star’s sensuality, power over men, and acute vanity. Horton recreates the slightly deeper tone and classic Hollywood “mid-Atlantic accent” that Bette Davis and other big names of the time were known for.
Finishing the small cast were Danny Seal as Taxi Driver/Madison, aka Bette Davis’ sex toy, and Brian Clarke as an inebriated Tennessee Williams, giving the ladies more fodder to fight over and more attention to vie for.
There were many outrageous moments in the show: the trio giving each other acting tips, trying to make the moves on someone else’s man, and not-so-subtle insults about their looks, attitude, and public failures. The show is not fast-paced but it is packed full of biting comments, hilarious exchanges, and nostalgia for a time when mega stars were more caricatures than real people.
StageCoach’s Legends and Bridge was over the top and very campy but unapologetic, and the cast fully enjoyed themselves. The audience had a fantastic time and thoroughly appreciated the impersonations of such wildly famous movie stars.
A well-known quote from Bette Davis on the death of Joan Crawford sums up the mood of this show perfectly. When asked about her colleague’s death, Bette responded, “You should never say bad things about the dead, only good… Joan Crawford is dead? Good.” DAMN.
Kudos to the cast for bringing these women back to life and letting the crowd enjoy an adventure of what might have been, even if it is a dig at the divas’ reputations and a biting representation of the abuse and subsequent tossing of stars once their luster has worn away.
I appreciate when a theater ventures out to do lesser-known shows, and StageCoach has developed a nice habit of reaching for these smaller but viewing-worthy productions. I hope they keep up this trend and look forward to where they will go next.
Running Time: Two hours, with one 15-minute intermission.
For information about upcoming StageCoach Theatre shows, click here.
COVID Safety: All guests may choose to wear masks while inside the theater, but it is not required. See StageCoach Theatre’s complete COVID protocols here.
Legends and Bridge
A Play by C. Stephen Foster
Joan Crawford: Anja Dick, Judy Garland: Stacy Crickmer, Bette Davis: Erika Horton, Taxi Driver/Madison: Danny Seal, Tennessee Williams: Brian Clarke
Executive Producer: Jerri Wiseman; Producer: Maggie Swan; Director: Scott Olson; Stage Manager: Ellen Woodstock; Technical Director: Terry Smith; Lighting Designer/Tech: Stacy King; Sound Designer/Tech: Terry Smith; Sound Tech: Mark Kaiser; Set Details/Props: Maggie Swan; Assistant Stage Manager/Makeup Assistant: Erin Briner; Hair/Makeup: Anja Dick; Costume Crew: April Bridgeman and cast; Program: Jerri Wiseman; Photography: Kat Brais, Anja Dick; Livestream Tech: Alec Negri, Ken Jones II; Set Construction: Terry Smith, Scott Olson, Maggie Swan, Anja Dick, Stacy Crickmer, Erika Horton, Danny Seal, Brian Clark, Ellen Woodstock