Interview: 'It Shows the Queer Community in Its Brightest Light': Trevor Ashley, Owain Williams, Dakota Starr and Reece Kerridge on PRISCILLA THE PARTY

'Priscilla is such a celebration of inclusion and belonging, and there's nothing more loving than that!'

By: Feb. 21, 2024
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Interview: 'It Shows the Queer Community in Its Brightest Light': Trevor Ashley, Owain Williams, Dakota Starr and Reece Kerridge on PRISCILLA THE PARTY
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Recently, BroadwayWorld had the opportunity to see a rehearsal for Priscilla the Party, which opens on 1 March at HERE at Outernet. After watching the cast perform some of the songs from the show, we chatted to several of the cast members - Trevor Ashely [Gay Cliché], Owain Williams [Tick/Mitzi], Dakota Starr [Bernadette] and Reece Kerridge [Adam/Felicia].

Priscilla The Party!
The cast of Priscilla the Party (Photo Credit: Matt Crockett)

If you’d like to introduce yourself and the role you play in the show?

Dakota: I'm Dakota Starr and I play Bernadette. 

Owain: Hi, I'm Owain Williams and I'm playing the role of Tick/Mitzi.

Reece: My name is Reece Kerridge, and I'm playing Adam/Felicia!

And how did you get involved in Priscilla the Party?

Trevor: I got a phone call from Gary McQuinn, the producer because I played the role of Miss Understanding in the original Australian production 18 years ago. And for this new version, Miss Understanding, who's now become Gaye Cliché, has to host throughout the night. They thought it would be a great thing for me to come over from Australia and reprise the role, bringing what I've done over the past 20 years to this production!

Priscilla The Party!
Trevor Ashley as Gaye Cliché (Photo Credit: Matt Crockett)

For those unfamiliar with Priscilla, can you tell us a bit about the show?

Dakota: Priscilla is the story of three drag queens who have to travel across Australia in a bus, which they name Priscilla, to perform at a casino in Alice Springs. Three different generations of drag queens who start off pretty much loathing each other and grow to love each other as as the journey commences.

Owain: [Gasps] Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, now known as Priscilla the Party . . . I think it's all about love. My character, Tick, goes on a journey to meet his son, and he takes, as a drag queen called Mitzi Mitosis, two of his buddies, Felicia and Bernadette, on this trip across the desert, in a big pink bus called Priscilla, to ultimately meet his son. There's a lot of love in that relationship. There's a lot of love between him and his other two queens. And ultimately, Priscilla is such a celebration of inclusion and belonging, and there's nothing more loving than that.

Trevor: Priscilla is set mainly in the Australian Outback. It's a journey of three queens, one transgender and two drag queens, who travel to the centre of Australia to do a drag show in the middle of Alice Springs. What they find out along the way is that one of the drag queens has a secret, and that’s his secret son and ex-wife who are out in the middle of the desert. And so it's a journey of Australia, the Outback, homophobia throughout these country towns and how they change people, how it changes them. So it's a real journey of acceptance and love and fabulousness.

Reece: Absolutely! So Priscilla is about three drag queens, of all generations, that go on a bus through the Australian Outback to go and perform at Tick’s wife’s casino. 

Priscilla The Party!
Reece Kerridge as Adam/Felicia (Photo Credit: Matt Crockett)

Had you been a fan of Priscilla before joining this production?

Reece: Anybody that knows me knows that this is my dream show to be a part of, and Adam/Felicia is my dream role. So to be able to be in my dream show and play my dream role is just ultimate goals for me. I have loved this show since it first came to London. I think I saw it four or five times - I saved up my money every year from birthdays and Christmases to buy tickets! It is just a wonderful celebration of all things queer, all things glitter and all things sparkle. So it's just incredible to be a part of this production. And something so fresh and new! We’re recreating the show.

What has it been like to be a part of this production?

Dakota: It's been phenomenal! It's a real treat. When I came out as non-binary, just under two years ago, you have a worry that that might be the end of your career, and you might be uncastable and then a job like this comes along and everything explodes. It's this fabulous, inclusive company of incredible, glittery humans.

Owain: It's incredible! I love being a part of a creative process where we literally get to create it in the room together. It's so awesome to watch the creative team allow the process to flow out of them. There's permission to play, there's permission to have fun, there’s permission to explore. I feel really lucky in terms of the cast we've got, because Dakota, Reese and I, who are playing the three queens, if they're doing a big dance number that we're not involved in, we go off and we bond together. That's creating the relationships between us offstage and then we bring elements of that onstage. It's really special.

Priscilla The Party!
Dakota Starr as Bernadette (Photo Credit: Matt Crockett)

What has it been like preparing for the immersive aspect of the show?

Dakota: That's an entirely new experience for me, so that's been really interesting. The idea of performing amongst the audience and having the set move among them is exciting and slightly intimidating at the same time, so we're getting used to that. It's gonna be exciting! 

Owain: I'm guessing it's gonna be different all the time, and the audience is gonna be right there. I'm very sensitive to energy as a person - I feed off that energy. So it's nice to be given that permission to let loose this early in the process.

Trevor: It's quite crazy - I’m nervous! It’s gonna be so full-on to be at a bar, doing these bar scenes and having so many people around us all night. But I think people are going to love the show because they are going to have the experience of being on stage with us. We've seen so many Wonderful Productions recently in London that have been completely immersive like this. And I think that it's a real treat and a joy to work with the original production team and recreate Priscilla, but do it in an entirely new way.

Reece: I think immersive theatre is one of the best things that's come about. We've seen Guys & Dolls at the Bridge [Theatre] and our production actually is very similar to that - we have set pieces that move all the way around the auditorium and the audience move with and around them. So Adam/Felicia’s first entrance for their song is on the platform at the back of the auditorium, and you surround it like a pop concert like it’s Kylie! Adam loves all things Kylie Minogue. It's wonderful to be involved in something so fresh or new, but something so iconic from the film and other stage productions.

What has it been like to be part of the show for so long?

Trevor: It's incredible! It's amazing. It's wonderful to be back and to be part of a new reiteration of it. It's freshened up the production, you get the full musical with all 500 costumes immersively in a really different kind of space, and I think it's gonna change the way people react to the show. And hopefully, they'll have an even better time than they would have sitting down at a theatre because now they can dance and party!

Priscilla The Party!
Owain Williams as Tick/Mitzi, Dakota Starr as Bernadette and Reece Kerridge as Adam/Felicia (Photo Credit: Matt Crockett

Do you have any favourite songs you’re looked forward to performing?

Dakota: We have a slowed-down ballad version of “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga that we do, which is going to be a favourite of mine, I think. There's so many fabulous camp disco songs! I really enjoy “Go West.” We do a great version of “Go West” before we get on the bus so that one’s a lot of fun. 

What do you think has made Priscilla such an iconic show?

Dakota: I think because it's a story told from the perspective of inclusivity and acceptance and of love. It's a story that shows the queer community in its brightest light. It's cheeky without being sordid and it's sassy without being too rude. And it's just gloriously accepting and warm!

Reece: It's all about the fans - without fans, shows wouldn't be what they are. I was one of those fans, and I still am one of those fans! So do come and see our production, because it is all things queer, feathers, sequins, sparkles . . .  You are going to be involved so much within the production, and you're going to be up close and personal. You're going to be right up against the stage, which is great!

What do you hope audiences take away from the show?

Dakota: I hope the audience has the most sensational party of their life - that would be lovely! But I hope they also leave with a sense of belonging and acceptance that you can be whoever you are and be loved.

Owain: That they belong. That everyone belongs. That you’re loved. You’re worthy. 

Trevor: I just hope that they come out with joy and fun in their hearts. Really, the show is a celebration of queer fabulosity. Hopefully, audiences will come along, enjoy the story, have a great night, have a big laugh, and come out with a big smile on their face.

Reece: To be honest, as long as you walk away with the biggest smile on your face and singing all of those iconic songs like “I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff,” “Better the Devil You Know,” and it fills your heart with love and joy, that's all I worry and care about.

How would you describe Priscilla the Party in one word?

Dakota:  Spectacular! 

Owain: Huge!

Trevor: Fab!

Reece: Glitter! 

Priscilla the Party runs from 1 March 2024 at HERE at Outernet. 

Photo Credits: Matt Crockett


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