TWENTY-five years ago the quirky, low-budget movie about drag and friendship – ‘The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert’ was an instant hit.
Thirteen years ago the first Iconic stage musical production version also wowed its audiences.
Now there’s a new ‘Priscilla’ and the national tour launched triumphantly last night at Malvern Theatres.
For the uninitiated, this is a musical adventure about three friends who happen to be drag queens, on a personal quest in a tour bus called Priscilla. They travel across Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs – and what a splendid journey it is!
Accomplished actor and ‘Strictly’ winner Joe McFadden is totally captivating as the gentle Tick/Mitzi, a queen with a past that includes fathering a son he has never seen – hence the reason for his journey.
He is joined for the fun of it by the outrageous but undeniably body-beautiful Felicia/Adam (played with lashings of passion and credibility by Nick Hayes) and the ageing Bernadette – a beautifully understated performance by Miles Western, which makes you listen and care.
Whilst Tick and Adam are gay men and female impersonators, Bernadette has had a sex change to become the woman that was born inside her body – quite a daring role to include in the original film 25 years ago and way before transgender was an acceptable conversation topic.
The trio are supported by a first-class singing and dancing ensemble, plus three magical divas, Rosie Glossop, Claudia Kariuki and Aiesha Pease; all of whom have lung power to raise the roof.
I have two special hat-doffing mentions; firstly Daniel Fletcher as Bob the heart of gold mechanic who falls for Bernadette and secondly Jacqui Sanchez as Bob’s outrageous bi-polar Thai-bride, who outrageously puts the ‘ping’ into Ping-Pong.
The ‘creatives’ include frantic and breathtaking choreography by Tom Jackson Greaves – spot-on direction from Ian Talbot, a wondrous collage of clap-a-long, sing-a-long musical arrangements by Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy (thank you Spud for including one my all-time favourite classics – MacArthur Park) and stunning-glittering settings plus delectable and endless feathers and frocks by Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels.
Hats off too, to Ben Cracknell for magical lighting and Ben Harrison for excellent sound – not an easy gig for this team with a zillion glittering sequins to contend with!
Long may this Queen reign – absolutely loved it and exited the auditorium with an aching jaw from laughing so much; tears of pure joy in my eyes and the happy pounding music of a great band under the musical direction of Sean Green.
Never has a musical revival been more timely – unmissable!
The show runs in Malvern until Saturday. Click here or call the box office on 01684 892277 for tickets, times and more information.
Review by Euan Rose.
Star ratings explained
***** Fabulous – Drop everything and go
**** Very good – Definitely worth seeing