Fun in the dunes with a sad edge

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Grand Theatre, Wolverhampton

****

THIS lively musical involves three glorious Australian drag-queens, travelling through the empty sandy terrains from Sydney to Alice Springs in pursuit of their dreams on a bus they call Priscilla, Queen of the desert.

The result is a treat for fans of disco nightlife, colour and all things fun.

Priscilla offers a feast of talent within the cast. Australia’s very own Richard Grieve is a dazzling entertainer and gives a heartfelt empathy to the role of Bernadette, an aging performer in desperate need to stay in the limelight.

Along with epic stamina and unbelievable skills of walking in various high heels, Greive lets us see that there is more to Bernadette than meets the eye.

Noel Sullivan, more likely known to my generation through his appearances in Hear’Say, is both charming and hilarious as he takes on the role of Tick/Mitzi.

Sullivan oozes fun, not to mention owning a pair of great legs. He perfectly masks Tick’s inner emotions and beautifully reveals them in moments of tender emotion when he thinks of his son.

Finally, Graham Weaver handles the role of Adam/Felicia with magnificent precision. Weaver’s flamboyance and love of life is sure to leave a smile on your face. The warmth and exuberance that Weaver portrays is crossed with scenes that are sometimes hard to watch, showing us the reality of the unique world he inhabits which is sometimes not always as fun as it seems.

Beyond the feathers and glitter, we see three raw and beautiful souls that are easy to fall in love with. The story is wonderfully peppered with great performances from the ensemble and Richard Weeden’s Orchestra, taking us back to a disco wonderland of groovy and toe-tapping songs.

Priscilla is a fun night out. With a wonderful array of magnificent costume, designed by Tim Chappel, paired with energetic performances to rocking Diva anthems it is sure to leave you feeling great, you may even want to continue the party further into the night.

There is however an age restriction with a minimum age of 15 recommendation. As fun as this show may be, Priscilla highlights the struggles of the glitz and glam lifestyle that may be challenging for younger audience members to watch.

Elizabeth Halpin

And dragging along in the back seats . . .

****

BASED on the smash-hit film, this musical trip across the desert ‘Down Under’ leaves the audience thirsting for more as three drag artists travel from Sydney to Alice Springs aboard an old bus called Priscilla.

Their adventures on the marathon journey is packed with fun and even danger when one of the trio encounters a bunch of gay-bashing Aussies in a seedy bar.

As the story opens an illuminated message advises: ‘Sydney, 10,563 miles from Wolverhampton’, but a bunch of other statistics in the programme give an early hint of just how spectacular this show will be.

The costumes are stunning, colourful and featuring extraordinary designs. You couldn’t count them, but we are told there are 500 costumes, 200 hats, 100 wigs, 150 pairs of shoes and  even a ‘mountain of mascara’.

It all helps create a remarkable spectacle, and as this is a musical it benefits from songs like What’s Love Got to Do With It, It’s Raining Men, I Say a Little Prayer and Always on My Mind.

Wonderful performances from Richard Grieve (Bernadette), Noel Sullivan (Tick) and Graham Weaver (Felicia), the drag artists whose journey ends at a reunion with Tick’s wife, who runs an Alice Springs casino, and their young son.

And there is a hilarious interlude with Frances Mayli McCann (Cynthia) does surprising things with pink ping-pong balls. To 01-02-14

Paul Marston 

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