Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, has for some reason managed to evade me…until last night at the Orchard Theatre in Dartford. Priscilla is another musical that stems from a movie but due to it’s content the transition from screen to stage was no surprise. The show follows 2 drag queens and a transgender woman who are travelling from Sydney to Alice Springs. Each of the characters have their own reason for the journey they embark on and the show gets its name from the bus they travel on, Priscilla.

Simon Green, Duncan James and Adam Bailey in Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Simon Green, Duncan James and Adam Bailey in Priscilla Queen of the Desert

The show at its core does have a heart and it is this heart that deals with underlying issues of tolerance, love and friendship and stops it being simply a homage to disco. Tick, played by Duncan James is determined to make the journey to see his son for the first time. Duncan James plays this part wonderfully. He slips between Tick and his drag alter ego Mitzi with ease and his singing voice is suitably smooth and easy on the ear (and nearly as easy as he is on the eye!!). Bernadette (a transsexual rather than a drag queen), played by Simon Green, agrees to undertake the journey to try to get over the death of his partner and along the way opens her heart to the possibility of love again. Simon Green plays this part with sensitivity coupled with a wicked sense of humour with some of the best catty remarks in the show. Making up the trio is Adam Bailey, playing Adam, who wants to make the journey to simply sing, in full drag on top of Ayres Rock but along the way ends up learning a lot more about himself than he may have expected. Adam Bailey is brilliantly flamboyant in this role and when Tick describes him as a brilliant performer you really believe this.

The Divas

The Divas

A mention must go to the ‘Diva’s’ played by Lisa-Marie Holmes, Laura Mansell and Catherine Mort, as between them they sing the hell out of numbers such as Downtown, Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, Hot Stuff and many more. They all have powerhouse voices and fully live up the title ‘diva.’

The costumes in this show are incredible; loud, insane, wacky, flamboyant and fun. As the programme blurb tells you each show requires 500 costumes, 200 hats, 100 wigs and 150 pairs of shoes and there are 8 people touring with the company to look after the wardrobe and wigs alone. The floorshow takes us through numerous outfits in a matter of minutes and the curtain call gets a whole new set of costumes just for the occasion. The costumes are sometimes so bizarre that I wonder as to the relevance but this just serves to make the show even more out there and fun. To match the costumes the lighting is also pure disco heaven with not 1 but 4 disco balls opening the show.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a perfect show for a fun night out with barrels of energy hitting you square in the face upon arrival but dig a little deeper and it actually has a heart and a message that is worth remembering as you hum the songs on your way home.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is on at the Orchard Theatre, Dartford until Saturday 30th May and then the tour continues. 

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