UKTW - 25 years online
CORONAVIRUS: All UK venues closed on 16th March 2020 and there is currently no planned re-opening time though it will not be before 1st June 2020 and is most likely to be September (according to some West End producers). Some shows have been cancelled, or closed early, but many are being rescheduled and we are trying to keep up with the changes - assume that anything posted for April and May is actually postponed or cancelled. Pantomimes are possible but a few venues and shows may not return and larger venues and tours are unlikely to re-appear before 2021 though we have some hope for some panto ....

Priscilla - Queen of the Desert

4
Tue, 14th Jan 20
Seen at the Mayflower Theatre.

Joe McFadden winner of Strictly come dancing stars in the touring production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert alongside Miles Western(Bernadette) and Nick Hayes (Felicia/Adam) devised from the original book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott.

The musical is opened by three outstanding "Divas" who all have the most incredible voices. They remain present throughout the entire production and add another dimension to the stage play which the film never had. However, by introducing the Trio, it works extremely well with a stage production because it adds another singing depth to the main three characters.

The main storyline with Priscilla Queen of the Desert tells the heartwarming tale of three friends on a journey of self-discovery and acceptance. Encountering the explosive darker side of human nature along the way. Where some of the people they encounter find accepting things that they deem to "not be normal" leads to some violent homophobic attacks on the three friends.

Priscilla the bus, which is used in this production, has been produced in sections so you get the front driver's cab of the bus as the main focal point and the individual dressing room sections which then make up the side parts. It's an incredibly effective and clever way of constructing such a large item of prop onto the stage. The three friends then drive the dilapidated bus across the Outback of Australia to Alice Springs.

The musical has been brought up to date with the addition of Kylie Minogue songs added into the ensemble with many of the original hits from the film version of Priscilla Queen of the Dessert still used. As Kylie is recognised as a "gay icon" it was very poignant that she should be added into this is Australian based musical where her friend and fellow actor Jason Donovan is one of the show's producers.

The set and costumes designed by Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels have created a vast array of very colourful and outrageous costumes worn by the three drag artists their use of colour, large headwear with bold makeup and feathers all add to the extremely eye-catching attire worn by the three main characters.

The musical is filled wall to wall with many well-known dance floor classics It's raining Men by the Weather Girls, Cyndi Lauper's Girls just wanna have fun to the all-time classic I will survive by Gloria Gaynor. Extremely poignant as each of the three main characters fight to survive their own battles along the way. You really can't help but sing along and join in as Priscilla makes her journey across Australia.

Director Ian Talbot has certainly bought Priscilla Queen of the Desert back into the limelight at a poignant time as the LGBTQ movement is now becoming supported and acknowledged as being very important highlighting that we should all live in acceptance of one another regardless of race, creed, sexuality and gender. This was supported and promoted with LGBTQ flags proudly being waved on stage during some of the musical numbers.

The evening's performance ended to a standing ovation and people joining in with the final songs singing along, cheering and generally enjoying themselves after a fantastic evening delivered by the very talented cast. It really is a feel-good musical leaving you humming along to one of the many catchy songs as you leave the Theatre.

Elaine Chapman


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