★★★★ Priscilla Queen of the Desert | In this joyous musical based on the cult film of the same name, three drag queens “unplug their curling wands and go bush” to travel across the outback; as they bitch, bicker and laugh their way across the desert en route to a show in a casino in Alice Springs.
The trio continuously ensure that they are looking their best whilst “dressing up in women’s clothing and mouthing the words to other people’s songs” as they fall in love, cement their friendship and learn about life on the way to the show of their lives.
Following the story of the cult film fairly closely (albeit it with some minor changes) it was a show which is unashamedly flamboyant. The show uses a combination of gay club disco classics, including “I Will Survive”, “I Love the Nightlife”, “Go West” and “Finally”, meaning that the whole audience were clapping, cheering and laughing from the moment the curtain went up.
In terms of the cast, Jason Donvan was functional as Tick, and poked a little fun at his Neighbours days, but played the part with a little bit too much camp, watering down the interplay between the straight laced Tick and outrageous Adam, whereas Simon Green filled the stiletto’s of Bernadette perfectly, with a rounded, character filled performance. The supporting cast were, as you would expect, ludicrously attractive and threw themselves into the musical numbers with energy and gusto.
The whole thing was colourful, exuberant and thoroughly entertaining with a sharp, funny script, including many of the quotable lines from the movie and all of the characters that you know and love from the film (including good ol’ Shirl). But where the show really came into its own was in the musical numbers, taking some from the film and adding some new ones just for the show. The routines were over the top, bold, brassy and ballsy, with costumes to match (flip flop dress, anyone?). Everything from dancing paintbrushes, lizards, Marie Antoinette’s, Ostriches and scantily clad, leather wearing dancers were all on stage in a dazzling spectacular.
If you haven’t seen the show, then go and treat yourself. If you have, then go again, even if it is to spot a few changes in the production this time around, (although not all of them work – especially ditching It’s Raining Men as the opening number). There is an underlying message of acceptance in society and strength in friendship underneath it all, but it is smothered in a thick layer of campness and kitch which plants the show firmly in realms of the feelgood musical.
Overall, this was a really great, fun show and a piece of feel-good, uplifting and ultimately heart-warming theatre which has its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek. It’s a real feast for the eyes, the ears, the heart, the soul and the funny bone.
Priscilla is currently at Sheffield Lyceum Theatre until May 28th 2016 (www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk) before continuing on it’s national tour. See www.priscillathemusical.com for details.