If there’s 2 things I love, it’s musicals and drag! So when Priscilla came to town, there was no way I wasn’t going to jump on board. As soon as I saw it was coming to Malvern, I booked tickets straight away.
I have to admit that I only watched the film for the first time this year but instantly became obsessed. It’s the perfect package of catchy songs, amazing costumes, camp and heartfelt stories. How could such a spectacular film be transferred to the stage?
Cut to Monday 14th October 2019 at Malvern Theatre. It was a largely packed audience and everyone was excited to see the show finally arrive at this beautiful theatre. No one went away disappointed.
The show, based on the 1994 Australian film ‘The Adventures Of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert’, follows 3 drag performers as they travel across the Australian outback for a residency to perform at a casino. And what an adventure it is!
On the way they meet a variety of weird and wonderful people and also face hardship and homophobia! It truly goes to show how far we’ve come in the 25 years since the original film and how far we’ve still got to go.
The show was absolutely incredible and translated well onto the stage. A few things have been changed from the film but nothing too major and it doesn’t detract from the original story.
Joe McFadden who played Tick was fantastic throughout. His voice was beautiful and he made a gorgeous woman. He certainly wasn’t afraid to push the boat out with the sexier outfits. It was also lovely to see the tender moments his character shared with his son. He played the part expertly.
Miles Western who played Bernadette was spot on like the film. Very deadpan but hilarious. How they managed to say some of the lines without even cracking a smile is beyond me. Bernadette is transgendered and was played tenderly throughout and looked and acted as it should have been. A very classy performance.
At the polar opposite of the scale was Nick Hayes portrayal of Felicia who was 100% lively and energetic from the first bars of Venus. Nick wasn’t afraid to wear the most riskier outfits and gave his all throughout!
At one point, during the ping pong ball scene (think about it and I’m sure you can guess what I’m on about), the performance was so good that Nick couldn’t stop laughing and even struggled to get the lines out. He even shared jokes with the audience at the end to do with the ping pong balls. A very confident performer who you can’t take your eyes off.
A special mention has to go to Miss Understanding, played by Kevin Yates. She pops up throughout the show and is incredible. Her interaction with the audience at the beginning is comedic and brilliant.
Apart from the ping pong ball scene, I loved the scene where Felicia is on top of the bus in a fabulous silver outfit lip syncing to Verdi: Follie!! Delirio Vano E Quest! Not only is this spectacular on its own, there is the perfect juxtaposition of the locals from the town they just left looking aggressive and dancing around the bus. They don’t want these people here yet Felicia is living her best life and it’s quite emotional to watch.
Although the characters face a lot of problems- loosing a husband, homophobic abuse, being gay and having a son, assault- they are certainly never a victim and it’s amazing to see strong gay/trans characters conquering and being portrayed in such a positive way.
The outfits are something else! Outrageous, full of sparkle and just stunning to look at. There are so many costume changes throughout the show but you are given plenty of chance to take in all the fabulousness of each one and there’s even a quick change montage near the end so look out for that.
Before I went to the show, I wondered how they would be able to get into drag makeup and then back to boy look so quickly. This was done very cleverly with the use of plastic eye masks which have the makeup on already. They are slipped onto the actors faces and it looks like they have all the eye makeup expertly done. All that’s left to do is slap on some lipstick and they’re good to go.
This is the first time this show has been performed at a smaller theatre so there was a lot of thinking on their feet but, having said that, it was flawlessly done. How they make Priscilla is clever and the scenes flow seamlessly with use of dances. The ensemble for this show certainly work hard.
This show is not only tender but incredibly funny too and is a must see for anyone who needs a feel good, upbeat show with songs that everyone knows and can sing along too. Be sure to catch Priscilla as she passes by your hometown!
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Written by contributor Nathan Warren