Priscilla – Queen of the Desert

By Allan Scott and Stephan Elliott. Directed by Simon Phillips. Capitol Theatre, Sydney. Opening Night May 17, and touring.

Photo : Ben Symons

Priscilla has accelerated her way back into Sydney in a blaze of pink LED and a cast that had the opening night audience on its feet applauding and cheering even before the curtain calls began. The energy and pizazz that begins with It’s Raining Men doesn’t let up for the entire show. The costumes, the colour, the choreography, the chemistry all come together in a spectacle that is a celebration of co-ordinated talent and vitality… and a bright rainbow ‘thumbs up’ to liberation and equity.

And, despite the zing, glamour and fast pace that is quintessential to the show, the through-lines of longing, expectation and acceptance are just as powerful in understatement as the flamboyance of the journey to find them.

Tony Sheldon, triumphant from taking ‘Bernadette’ jubilantly around the world, brings her back to Australia with the panache and style we always expect of him. After 1750 performances, his Bernadette is just as fresh and cheeky, just as fragile and compassionate. His audience welcomes him home with wide open arms.

Priscilla has become an icon – and this production gives it true iconic status.

David Harris gives the role of Tick just the right amount of apprehension and hesitation under the bluster he uses to convince Bernadette and Felicia to brave the chauvinistic machismo of outback Australia. Harris uses his wealth of stage experience to find the empathy and confusion of a gay father meeting his eight-year-old son for the first time, as well as the flair and vitality of the ‘father in show business’ that his son is expecting to meet.

Euan Doidge is as over-the-top as one expects Felicia to be. He is cheeky, defiant, boldly sassy – and wears his naughty costumes with pert sauciness and a defiant physicality that brings out the differences between the three travellers, yet allows the fragility of the character to show through.

Robert Grubb plays Bob, the outback mechanic who treasures memories of a performance of “Les Girls” years before. Grubb is suitably ‘ocker’ in his interpretation of the character, providing a contrast to the glamour, glitz – and tenuous confidence of the Bernadette, Tick and Felicia.

Photo : John Leung

A talented cast surround them in a dazzling festivity of song and dance that exudes joy and glitters with colourful splendour – as does Priscilla herself, as she glides onto the stage in a shimmer of LED brilliance and revolves smoothly, and often, without the slightest mechanical hitch. Production designer Brian Thomson has this ‘bus concept’ running more smoothly than the State Transport could even imagine!

The ‘Divas’ – Angelique Cassimatis, Samm Hagen and Cle Morgan – sing suspended above the stage in elegant, many-ruffled evening dresses that pick up the dominant glitzy colours   . . . . .

continued in Stage Whispers magazine.