The synopsis and title, "The Legend of Georgia McBride," are not promising: A straight Elvis impersonator becomes a drag queen to support his pregnant wife.

But this 100-minute comedy by Matthew Lopez (author of the dead-serious "The Whipping Man") is the sweet-natured surprise of the young season.

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We're in a poor Florida town. Casey (Dave Thomas Brown) is a lousy Elvis impersonator but a loving husband of the altogether lovable Jo (Afton Williamson). When he gets fired in favor of a couple of drag queens, he joins the show but doesn't tell the wife. Naturally, he gets very, very good at it.

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The fun is in Lopez's theatrically knowing dialogue and Mike Donahue's lot-with-a-little direction on Donyale Werle's detail-crazed, tiny set. The five actors are all shrewdly delightful, but the galvanizing center is Matt McGrath as Tracy, the exquisitely smart mother superior-star of the shabby show. Lopez tosses in a little message about drag and gender nonconformity, but even the lecture is entertaining.

WHERE Lortel Theatre, 121 Christopher St.

INFO $69-$75; 212-352-3101; mcctheater.org