Life is an adventure. Dress accordingly!
If you’re lookin’ for some hot, hot stuff on Australian Broadway, you’ve come to the right place. Priscilla ‘Queen of the Desert’ delivers the seasonal warmth in an Aussie winter. It also brings a whole lotta depth.
The show kicks off with two drag queens and a transgender woman (the eldest of the three), who perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs. As they head west from Sydney aboard their soon-to-be pink bus, Priscilla, the three friends come to the forefront of a comedy of errors, encountering a number of hilarious characters, as well as the intense theme of homophobia, while widening our hearts and finding new horizons.
During the inevitable ‘over-the-top’ performances, the audience couldn’t help but chime into some of the classics— “It’s Raining Men” opened the show driving into a strong focus on Felicia’s Kylie Minogue obsession, “Better the Devil You Know.” The degree of vivaciousness in Simon Phillips’ direction keeps the laughs flowing and the action engaging.
This production lives or dies on the shoulders of its three leading Queens — and they are incredible. Tony Sheldon plays Bernadette, and he has the ability to flip his emotions in the blink of an eyelash. David Harris returns to Australia to play Tick, the strongest role but with an emotional story. The concept of a father who feels uncomfortable for his young son to be aware of his drag career is still convincingly tense.
Who could forget the flamboyant Euan Doidge as he fully inhabits the cheeky sprite of Felicia, bringing an extra level of dazzle with his phenomenal dance skills. Naturally we see two sides of the character, and Doidge balances them both with raw, endearing vulnerability.
As a jukebox musical, this iconic Australian classic has additional nostalgia and affection of the franchise’s original 1994 film production with Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce, and Terence Stamp as Bernadette. Priscilla ‘Queen of the Desert’ checks virtually all the boxes: toe-tappingly familiar songs, stellar performances, shiny costumes, and a reminder of the impact of its subject on the music industry at large. Get ready to focus on sparkling numbers but also the exposition as well.
Some musicals are timeless. Priscilla is definitely one of them.