Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical follows the story of two drag queens and a transgender woman as they travel across the Australian outback to Alice Springs to perform a drag show in the popular resort town.
It is based on the 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which was directed by Stephan Elliott and stars Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp.
The stage version of the film began touring in 2006 in Sydney with short-lived runs in Melbourne, Sydney and Auckland in New Zealand. The success of this tour led to Priscilla Queen of the Desert hitting the West End stage for a wildly successful two-year run. Since then the show has hit stages around the world – Toronto, Milan, Sao Paulo, the US, UK, Stockholm, Buenos Aires, Manilla, Seoul, Tokyo, Cape Town and many more.
There is no shortage of talent, as a chorus of talented dancers and singers fill the stage in glorious technicolor. The supporting cast and live orchestra help to weave a wonderful story filled with musical delights set by the backdrop of the dusty Australian outback.
This spur of the moment road trip follows the journey of Tick/Mitzi as he readies to meet his son who he has been avoiding for eight long years. Our other Queens, Bernadette and Felicia, also face up to some of their own difficulties along the way. Our ladies develop a strong bond by the end of their perils across the outback together when they finally make it to Alice Springs.
While the show offers a wonderful escapism into this outback adventure, underscored with some anthems such as ‘True colours’ and real-world issues facing the LGBT community, it falls short in some areas. The dramatic story lines of each of our ladies is skimmed over ever so briefly for the most part and while this could be forgivable in a live show’s limited run time, there seems no end to the musical numbers performed throughout the show.
Frankly, the show could see some of the musical extravaganza dismissed in favour of expanding and detailing the struggles behind the glitter and sequins less abruptly. The LGBT community struggles even within itself, as is shown by Felicia’s snarky comments and put-downs towards Bernadette, and a show so well recognised should make clear to the hetero masses the struggle, instead of glossing over it with a giant drag paint brush.
Some of the drama and reality from the film is lost on the stage for Priscilla which is an awful shame. As far as a well-produced colourful stage production goes through, this one ticks all the boxes.
After the show’s finale and before the curtain drops Daniel Fletcher, who plays the part of Bob, silences the room and politely asked for the audience’s attention.
The production began in Australia, and many of the cast are Australian, so Mr Fletcher asked the audience for their help following the disastrous bushfires in the country.
He asked for the crowd to donate what they could to aid relief efforts.
Outside of reviewing the show itself, this is a marvellous act of solidarity by the cast and crew of Priscilla and I would encourage any patron viewing the show or not to donate generously to one of the many available charities helping in the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in recent years.
You can donate here through the World Wildlife Fund to the Australia appeal.