Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is a musical based on the film by the same name. For those that have not seen the film it tells of 3 Drag Queens who embark on a journey, in a bus named Priscilla, to Alice Springs to perform their show there. On this journey is Tick, who makes this journey as his wife and son live at the casino and it is time for him to become part of his son’s life. With Tick is Bernadette, a transgender woman who was part of Les Girls and has her heart opened to loving again during the journey. Completing the trio is Adam/Felicia, a flamboyant drag queen who is determined to sing Kylie on top of Ayres Rock!
In order for Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical to succeed it has to be fun, camp and very OTT and this production of it succeeds on all of these levels, although at times they could have pushed the boundaries of OTT even further. With the music that is involved in Priscilla you can’t help but get into the party mood and this is helped when you have a cast full of strong vocalists and a superb band, lead by Sean Green.
The costumes as ever were dripping in sequins and colour although the ensembles costumes weren’t quite on the same huge scale as previous productions, although newcomers to the show would still love them and be non-the wiser as to what they are missing out on. The set has also been adapted cleverly for the tour with the vital part of the set being Priscilla the bus! How the bus came apart and helped form parts of other scenes was an imaginative step to take to help the momentum and energy of the show keep flowing.
The 3 leads all embodied their roles wonderfully. Nick Hayes took on Felicia/Adam and his version of ‘Venus’ was a vision with sass oozing from him every time he stepped into Felicia’s heels. Miles Western was Bernadette and he struck a wonderful balance of heart and quick witted put downs. My only criticism for Western would be that he needs to give time for the jokes to land before rushing onto the next line. Joe McFadden played Tick and whist I took a while to warm to him (I put this down the the story itself rather than McFadden) I found his end scenes with his son very moving and it definitely gave the show an ‘awwww’ factor. All 3 of the cast were able to strike the right tone for the appropriate moment in the show from the high energy performances in full drag to some sinister and serious moments, highlighting the prejudice that the LGBTQ+ community can face. Often these moments can be difficult to land due to the overall fun vibe of the show but McFadden, Western and Hayes, along with the rest of the cast acted their socks (well heels) off during these moments.
I enjoyed the original choreography by Tom Jackson Greaves although the numbers really varied in attack. Some numbers were performed full out by the ensemble where as others lacked a bit of polish and attack within them.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is hard to beat as far as a fun show with upbeat classic songs and this latest tour will not disappoint on that front.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is running at the Orchard Theatre until Saturday 14th September. To buy tickets visit the Orchard Theatre’s website.