The rise of the drag queen is clearly complete when you see the packed houses for this joyous, saucy celebration of high camp and solidarity! And we loved every minute.
A bonafide dazzling, feel good show with wig waving anthems and stunning costumes, in the outback, with a battered old bus.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the musical is based on the 1994 film that followed three drag queens on a road trip through the Australian outback. If you haven’t seen it put it on your wish list now – it’s an iconic watch, and back in 1994, a surprise worldwide hit. Its portrayal of two drag queens and a transgender woman (played by Terence Stamp) helped to introduce LGBT themes to a mainstream audience. The film won a deserved Oscar for the costumes by Lizzie Gardiner and Tim Chappel, and became a cult classic. Of course it did.
Priscilla at the Palace opens with flamboyant flavours belting out the Weather Girls’ It’s Raining Men. The three protaganists are played by Strictly Come Dancing winner and Holby City star Joe McFadden as an endearing Tick/Mitzi. Felicia Jollygoodfellow is taken on by Nick Hayes (Orson from Hollyoaks), along with Miles Western as Bernadette.
The script is full of belly laughs and poignant moments in the tale of self-acceptance and tolerance, and the beaten up old bus is a star of the action as the trio travel to Alice Springs through the red-neck outback of Australia. The relationship between the three blossoms on the road, as they face homophobia and breakdowns – both personal and mechanical – all to the glammed up disco soundtrack.
An amazingly visual moment is Felicia’s operatic performance on the top of the bus as it drives through an outback storm, looking like an actual angel in white with feathers and enormous hoop skirt. In fact we loved the pure sass of Felicia in this show. And we loved the other trio of divas, Claudia Kariuki, Aiesha Pease and Rosie Glossop, also angelic in sparkling white – providing the opportunity for the drag queens to lip-sync for their lives to 70s and 80s floor-filling anthems!
This show is nothing but fabulous! The costumes all feathers and sequins and heels, the music, the dancing, the singing to discos gems like I Will Survive and Hot Stuff. I’m still humming McArthur Park after the hilarious moment when Tik finds that cake – in the rain – ahem! The dancers dressed as camp-as-you like fairy cakes, or as paint brushes transforming the graffiti daubed Priscilla, it really had it all.
And while we squealed at the high camp action, there were softer moments provided by Tiks meeting with his son Benji, and Bernadette’s burgeoning relationship with mechanic Bob. It’s a portrayal of the LGBT community’s ability to overcome homophobia with compassion, glamour and more than a few high kicks. We loved it.