Oh my God, do I love this show? ...even after the second visit I am begging for more. Priscilla Queen of the Desert is the ultimate feel good musical. It is no surprise that it won this year's 'Best New Musical' from What's on Stage, along with three other awards.
Adapted from the Oscar winning film, the story follows the journey of three friends across the Australian outback. They are outrageous, fabulous performers from the Sydney drag scene. Tick, Bernadette and Felicia head to Alice Springs in central Australia to visit Tick's ex-wife. Tick (previously played by Jason Donovan) is taken on by Ben Richards who sings and dances with vigour and elan, and yet is also able to show a more reserved side that is essential for his character. Don Gallagher is the stunning Bernadette, and Oliver Thornton the gorgeous Felicia. Thornton was born to play this role, and has an energy that is infectious. I have to admit that I really do love Oliver Thornton - beautiful in the flesh but strangely even more attractive as a woman.
The musical boasts 25 dance floor classics, these familiar songs are bound to be one of the reasons for Priscilla's resounding success. Audiences worldwide recognise the tunes, many singing along and even getting up to have a dance. It is a marathon for the performers, with spectacular choreography throughout. My experience of Priscilla was quite special this time around. I was one of the lucky few picked to go up onstage and dance with the cast during the performance, a very memorable and hilarious experience.
Visually this show is quite staggering with over 500 costumes, 55 wigs, and 200 head-dresses. Designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner won an Academy award for their costumes for the film and now, with a bigger budget they have made the musical's outfits quite dazzling, imaginative and witty. They have the best bodies to work with, bronzed (they have a StTropez booth backstage) and toned, these women, sorry men, would make any woman enviable.
A journey to the heart of Fabulous, for sure. I wish I was up there performing in Priscilla Queen of the Desert every night.