As gay films go, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert has to be up there on the list of the most successful and popular ever made. Following the journey of 3 drag queens across the Australian desert en route to Ticks’ wife’s hotel to perform a series of drag shows and meet his son for the first time with his two friends, Bernadette and Felicia.
The film was adapted for the West End and is currently playing at the Palace Theatre. I went to see the show with high expectations being a big fan of the film and having heard rave reviews from friends. I wasn’t disappointed. The stage musical is an outrageously colourful and unashamedly exuberant celebration of drag.
The show incorporates some of the big numbers from the film, often via The Three Divas, the brilliant chorus who are often suspended from wires or elevated on platforms whose huge voices are only matched by their wigs. The show also incorporates some new music and employs classics and crowd-pleasers to help drive the plot in sometimes funny –Don’t Leave Me This Way for Trumpet’s funeral, sometimes touching, I Say a Little a Prayer for You for Tick’s longing for his son and sometimes dramatic -Felecia’s emotionally charged Confide in Me, ways.
They way the bus is lit up and is subsequently used to set the tone of songs and reflect the setting is very pleasing and a clever way to give centre stage to the eponymous Priscilla. The lavish set and extraordinary cast ensure you will be grinning like a Cheshire cat throughout the whole musical.
One of my favourite acts in the musical, which isn’t in the film, is Bob’s/Bernadette’s flashback to when she was a young, beautiful and renowned performer and he had gone to her performance in Sydney. The costumes and song ooze glamour and epitomise cabaret at its best. The nostalgia and longing of the song is touching and adds a back story and depth to the relationship between Bob and Bernadette.
To finish here are a couple of my favourite fun facts from the program –
-There are 514 costumes, 55 wigs, 150 pairs of shoes and 200 headdresses worn in the show
-1 kilo of make up glitter is used each month
-400 ping pong balls are shot out of cannons at each performance (during the infamous performance by Bob’s Filipino wide Cynthia)
Below is a preview of the London show:
I went to the show on a Priscilla Party: a party night full of glitz, glamour and wall to wall hits. It’s an unforgettable way to celebrate a night out, birthday, hen Night or special occasion. Package included:Package includes: 2 Top Priced Tickets, 2 Drinks at the Palace Theatre Bar, 2 Feather Boas, 1 Souvenir Programme, 1 Original Australian Cast Recording CD.