Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a very successful, award winning Australian film by Stephen Elliot, about two homosexual drag queens together with a transgender woman embarking on a trip from Sydney to Alice Springs in a rickety old bus they name Priscilla.
The film was subsequently made into a stage musical which has had a very successful run in the West End (who could forget that iconic shoe outside the Palace Theatre) and is now spreading it’s joy to the rest of the country in a nationwide tour. I caught up with the show last night in Brighton.
A huge fan of the show in the West End, I was curious to see how they would be able to produce a touring production, but although staging compromises have been made it does not spoil the overall effect. It is still flamboyant, as camp as Christmas, with a large cast and literally 100s of costumes, wigs and shoes. Taking the centre stage is none other than a bus called Priscilla!
I am thrilled that it has lost none of it’s magic. Priscilla is perfectly dazzling as ever!
Duncan James is a revelation (interview here) , he was born to play ‘Tick’ the central character who is harbouring a secret.. Unbeknown to his friends Tick has a wife and son in Alice Springs and is desperate to be a good father yet worries what his son will think of his lifestyle and sexuality. Duncan James plays the part to perfection, he looks grand in dresses made from Flipflops, sings like a diva and seems to be having a whale of a time, yet his relationship with his onstage son Benji is sensitively and beautifully portrayed. A wonderful performance, a case of art imitating life perhaps as James hid his own sexuality for years. Thankfully now he is right at home and a joy to watch.
Joining Tick in Priscilla are the flamboyant and totally fabulous (in every sense of the word) Adam (Adam Bailey) who is out to have as much fun as possible and succeeds in thrilling the audience as he does so, and Bernadette (Simon Green) who longs to find love and hankers after the old days when she was younger and worshipped as part of the Cabaret act Les Girls. The trio are very different and each have their personal journey to make and on the way they learn a lot about themselves and each other. James, Bailey and Green are a tour de force and a perfect combination.
The music in Priscilla Queen of the Desert is comprised of 70s and 80s dancefloor classics and has you tapping your feet right from the opening number. Hit after hit delights the audience, Boogie Wonderland, Hot Stuff, Go West, even MacArthur Park, the hits just keep coming. Usually at this point I am grumbling that a musical should have original songs but in this case I shall make an exception as each number is presented with new life and a whole lotta sparkle.
I left the Theatre Royal grinning from ear to ear, It is easy to see the secret of Priscilla’s succes:, big, bold and outrageous costumes, feel-good music, a few disco balls & sparkles, an injection of some humour, damn fine choreography, amazingly talented performers and a bus, and you are getting close to understanding why Priscilla Queen of the Desert remains one of the best feel-good shows of all time.
The best pick-me-up in town – heartily recommended.
Reviewer : Sammi O’Neill
Please note: Due to some of the content and language the age rating is 15+
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert continues at the Theatre Royal in Brighton until next Saturday (7th November 2015) and then continues it’s tour to many other UK venues with Duncan James sharing the role of ‘Tick’ with Jason Donovan. It returns to the South East on the following dates:
Buy tickets by clicking the link.
for other venues visit ththe Priscilla Website http://www.priscillathemusical.com