BWW Reviews: PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT in Athens in Greek
The plight of a theater critic while on vacation. My wife expected a nice quiet but eventful trip to Greece and Turkey without any sort of theater. But all that came to a quick halt after meeting a young American woman in Mykonos, Greece while enjoying a great pizza at Geogio's in Mykonos town (which I highly recommend). We began talking about Athens (she works at the American Embassy there) and mentioned she was going to see the hit musical PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT in Athens. Well, my wife Lisa and I got so excited we knew we had to see it since we missed the hit show during its run on Broadway in 2011.
We went to www.priscillaqueenofthedesertthemusical.com and found there were performances in Seoul, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Manila, and Athens, Greece. It was playing at the Badminton Theater, which ten years ago housed the Olympic badminton competition and was now transformed into a 2,500 seat theater.
In the morning we had visited the amazing Acropolis and according to our guide book saw the very first theater called the Theater of Dionysus. During Athens' Golden Age, Sophocles and others watched their plays here. Between 342-326 B.C.E., the theater held 17,000 patrons.
From the historical Theater of Dionysus in the morning to the Badminton Theater at night. We took a taxi to the theater since it is located in the middle of a forest it would be difficult to find via a bus. At the box office, we were greeted by the lovely Victoria Loli who I introduced myself as a Broadwayworld.com correspondent and about my desire to do a story on the show. She was very gracious and attentive. She got us aisle seats and got us a lovely souvenir program (sold for 8 euros). There are NO free programs in Athens. She then added that after the show, she would introduce me to the cast at the PRISCILLA Bar.
The show by Stephen Elliott and Allan Scott is adapted from the 1994 Australian film of the same name. The story involves a nervous Sydney drag queen artist (Tick, the talented George Kapoutzidis) reuiniting with his son Benji, he hasn't seen since birth. Tick is joined on the road trip across Austrailia with drag queen Adam/Felicia (the fabulous Stai Chammel) and a retired drag queen , now transexual Bernadette, the dignified and meloncholy Totis Sergoulopoulos (who happens to star in a daily talk show in Athens called "Fotis and Maria Live" from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m.)
PRISCILLA is the bus which transports them to the outback looking for Benji. (I didn't get a chance to meet him after the show). Also on the bus is the trio of women playing a "Greek" chorus, Demy, Melina, and Shaya (the 3 Divas). Kudos also to the terrific ensemble who were also incredibly talented.
While the show was translated into Greek, the songs were mainly in Enlgish and we thorougly enjoyed "It's Raining Men", "What's Love Got to Do With It", "I Say a Little Prayer", "Don't Leave Me This Way", "Venus", "Go West", "I Love the Nightlife", "True Colors", "I Will Survive", "Thank God I'm a Country Boy", "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" "Hot Stuff", "MacArthur Park" and other great songs. It's the music of Tina Turner, Madonaa, Village People, Dionne Warwich, Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Gaynor and John Denver (there was no translation for the words "Thank God I'm A Country Boy").
The audience roared at the performances and though we didn't understand a word of Greek (yes, it was all Greek to us), we laughed along.
After the show, I met with the three stars who all spoke English. Kapoutzidis was sent by the Greek producers (Mixaahe and Vanessa Adam) to England to see the show and was given the task of translating the book into Greek. He mentioned that it was difficult to translate due to so much slang and emphasized there was no vulgarity. He said they do 6 shows a week and that this was his first musical. After completing four years of Law School he attended Drama School in Athens and also writes for televison. I told him he has a great future in musical comedy. It was great meeting the other lead actors and the Musical Director who did a great job with the 9 piece orchestra. I was informed the incredible colorful costumes, by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, came from the London West End production and they are amazing.
There is no doubt seeing PRISCILLA in Greek, in Athens, was one of the highlights of our journey. It has been extended to June 15, 2014 (I knew it would be.) Do not miss it if you are in the neighborhood.
I guess one could say this truly is a "Broadwayworld" site.