It’s been over a decade since Priscilla Queen Of The Desert graced us with her theatrical debut in 2006. Since then, she’s spread her sparkle across the seas, driving her pink bus around Broadway and the West End until now, when she returns to Sydney where it all began. With the streets outside the Capitol Theatre lit by the blinding pink fluorescent glow on opening night, we instantly knew we were in for a glittering good time.
There was an offical ‘pink’ carpet, a booming live DJ, statues wrapped in feather boas and flamboyant models dressed head-to-toe in eye-popping costumes to jazz up the mood. Then the industry celebs turned up and the energy went up a notch — 2DayFM’s Em Rusciano, Home and Away veterans Lynne McGranger and Ray Meagher and Aussie acting legend Michael Caton to name a few.
In the opening scene, three leggy divas resplendent with towering headpieces floated down from the ceiling singing ‘It’s Raining Men’ and whisked us away into Priscilla’s sparkling world.
This latest production of the feel-good story about three drag queens on a road trip to Alice Springs is still one fun, glittery bus ride, bringing together the show’s original creative team, minus the late Ross Coleman. Directed by Simon Phillips once again, with over 500 embellished and outrageous costumes designed by the Oscar-winning team, Lizzy Gardiner and Tim Chappel, Priscilla, quite literally, dazzles.
This organza of platform shoes, disco jumpsuits, and sequins is magnificently topped off by the dazzling headpieces that crown our queens. With over 200 creations donned throughout the show, this glamours headgear comes in flower-covered heart helmets, winged fruit salad horns, and luscious metre-high feather headpieces ready for any occasion our squad might find themselves in.
The classic trademarks of the original are all there — cheeky one-liners, a blush-worthy ping-pong show and, my personal favourite, a soundtrack featuring disco ballads ‘It’s Raining Men,’ ‘Go West,’ I Love The Nightlife’ and ‘I Will Survive’ to name a few.
With the iconic grey bus getting an LED light makeover, it almost became a character in itself. We gasped when the homophobic graffiti from the Broken Hill bogans was illuminated on the side of the bus; we cheered when the queens ‘painted’ the bus pink to cover the graffiti; we boogied when it transformed into our very on disco ball rippling with every colour of the rainbow. The hi-tech upgrade to this quintessential feature has really helped drive the production into the tech age, showing the production’s timeless yet adaptable nature.
On their journey west, this gaggle of drag queens is led by Tick, played by the tender and alluring David Harris (Miss Saigon; Wicked; Legally Blonde). Accompanying him is ‘Kylie Minogue’s biggest fan’, the flamboyant and brattish Felicia, played by Euan Doidge (Kinky Boots). Rounding out the trio is Tony Sheldon reprising his role as the transgendered Les Girls goddess, Bernadette. Although Harris and Doidge make all the right moves, it’s Sheldon who really steals the show, delivering a stand-out performance in the beloved mother-hen role filled to the brim with substance and heart.
Priscilla Queen Of The Desert hits all the right notes and is still able to maintain its high-octane, vibrant and endlessly colourful allure from the film and decade-old musical adaptation to get even the most rusty individual up and dancing at the end.
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