Ellen Cook heads to Plymouth’s Theatre Royal to catch camp comedy musical Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.
UNDERNEATH the undeniable glitz and glamour of Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical is a warmth and humanity few could fail to be charmed by.
The premise is an intriguing one: three drag queens Tick (Mitzi), Adam (Felicia) and transsexual Bernadette travel from Sydney to Alice Springs to perform, travelling in a bus called Priscilla. Tick’s main motivation for taking the booking is to see his son, who lives in Alice Springs with Tick’s wife, something he is reluctant to tell the other two.
Over the miles the encounters they have and the people they meet will leave an indelible mark on each of them.
Jason Donovan skilfully navigates Tick’s emotional dilemma as the drag act who desperately wants to be a good dad. Cue some truly lovely moments between father and son when the trio reach Alice.
I was particularly impressed by Graham Weaver as Adam. The sheer energy of his performance – both in the moments of full frontal camp, and in the aftermath of an assault by some particularly nasty rednecks – was awe-inspiring.
When he finally fulfils his ambition to sing Kylie hits from the top of Ayers Rock, you can’t help feeling proud.
The ongoing Kylie references are pure gold, and allow Donovan to have a bit of fun. The audience was suitably appreciative, when, in response to Adam’s Kylie obsession, Tick states: “I always fancied Scott.”
Bernadette, the matriarch of the trio, was infused with a depth and dignity by Richard Grieve. We are given glimpses of her past fame (including a very clever flashback sequence featuring her younger self) which bring the character to life, and it’s clear Grieve knows her inside and out.
As a group, these three spark off each other in a fantastic way. The bitchiness, bickering and banter are countered by a mutual respect and deep affection; anyone who tries to harm any of them has the other two to deal with – fact. And it’s a tribute to the three actors that this seems so genuine.
On top of these three stellar performances, comes a supporting cast of enviable talent. Step forward Philip Childs, as Bob, an alpha male Aussie who, trapped in a loveless marriage when they meet, forms a bond with Bernadette. Childs touchingly portrays Bob’s fascination with the travelling trio, and his desire to protect them.
Then there is Alan Hunter, who opens the show as drag act Miss Understanding, with a hilarious Tina Turner tribute act. A surefire way to get an audience on side.
Within the ensemble, the Divas made a great impression – outstanding vocal performances and amazing outfits.
Let’s no forget the true stars of any musical, though – the songs. And Priscilla is packed to the rafters with crowd pleasers such as I Will Survive, Boogie Wonderland and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.
Jaw-droppingly stunning costumes, laugh-out-loud comedy, airborne singing, and sets so clever, you’re wondering “how did they do that?”. If you’re looking for all-out entertainment, then Priscilla’s your girl.