BWW Review: PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT: THE MUSICAL Arrives in Melbourne
After a trip around the world, the pink bus has returned to Melbourne. The revamped version of the musical opened to an audience who rose to their feet at the Regent Theatre, nearly 10 years after the original season closed.
With a few song updates (including a lot more Kylie), Priscilla is still the feel good show that will have you dancing in your seat. The story is the same, simple yet moving, and there are more snappy one-liners than a RuPaul's Drag Race recap video. With central themes of identity, belonging, and acceptance, the narrative follows two Sydney drag artists and a retired Les Girl trekking across the Nullarbor to perform at an Alice Springs casino...all with their own motives.
The ultimate purpose of the trip is for Tick to meet his son. David Harris, returning to Aus briefly from the USA, was the perfect casting decision. He sits Tick in the middle of a pendulum of emotion, swinging from moving ballad to pumping dance track in the blink of an eye. Harris' voice soars throughout the show but what he so importantly brings to the production is heart, bringing a lump to the audience's collective throat in "True Colours" and "Always On My Mind", proving why he's been a favourite leading man both here in Aus and in the USA. David Harris is magnificent as Tick.
After the death of her 25 year old partner, Bernadette needs a distraction from her grief and a renewed outlook on life. The legendary Tony Sheldon lives up to his reputation once again, reprising his role as Bernadette. Armed with oodles of stage presence and the sharpest delivery, he shines in every scene. A true master of the stage and we are so blessed to have him back on our stages.
Finally, Adam (or Felicia) wants to live out a life long dream: to belt out some Kylie on the top of Uluru. Euan Doidge is wonderful as the sometimes naïve and always flamboyant Felicia. With vocal chops to match his outrageous dancing ability, his Kylie numbers are a riot whilst his gentler moments (like "True Colours") are a lovely contrast. He's also got a knack for delivery with his character's one-liners having the audience rolling in the aisles.
Note must also be made of Cle Morgan, Samm Hagen, and Angelique Cassimatis as the divas who perform unbelievable vocals whilst suspended and flown around the stage, and Adam Noviello who is just divine as a young Bernadette.
The costuming of each and every performer on the stage is a character of the show in itself! Designed by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, we are treated to sequinned paintbrushes and cupcakes floating across the stage, and the classic Priscilla outfits we know and love. There is always something truly spectacular to look at.
Watching the show in 2018, there are a few cultural or racial moments in the show that have perhaps lost a little of their comedic shine, especially opening the production so soon after January 26th. Changes to these moments wouldn't have damaged the narrative or enjoyment of the show, similar to the song changes that have been made, so whilst this discomfort could have been addressed, those close to the show appreciated them nonetheless.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical fundamentally promotes self discovery, inclusivity, and community whilst also being, quite simply, a spectacularly fun night out. Following the overdue legalisation of same sex marriage in Australia, the celebration in and of this production is amplified. It's definitely time for people to remember how important this film and musical has been to so many.
Currently playing Melbourne for a limited season, Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical also plays Sydney, Adelaide, and Brisbane from May 2018.
Tickets via https://priscillathemusical.com.au/