Priscilla Queen of the Desert - May/June 2016
Priscilla is Queen of musicals
Tuck yourself in, and polish your glitter-balls – Priscilla has come to the Bristol hippodrome.
The drag queens have dusted the desert off their diamantés and brought a little fabulous to town.
The beloved Australian film from 1994 was a glorious feast of camp joy.
The stage show pulls on the movie's stiletto heels and strides to even higher levels of spectacle. In the stage show there is more music and more dancing than the film could have handled.
The performance of the three lead actors was impressive.
Duncan James as Tick was spectacular in drag, and as a nervous father. Simon Green's Bernadette seemed to channel 1950s screen queens like Deborah Kerr and Katherine Hepburn.
My personal favourite was Adam Bailey as Felicia.
He was a more vulnerable and brittle character than the screen original.
We felt his pain when his façade slipped and the sadness beneath was revealed. Masterfully done all round.
Much of the shows comedy comes from the interaction between the heroes and the everyday Aussie people, as well as the less than everyday.
The supporting cast did a great job of switching from gay bar clientèle in one scene, to gruffing it up as Coober Pedy opal miners in another.
Another highlight was Shirley the barmaid looking for love.
She was grotesquely and hilariously played by Catherine Mort.
On the way in I wondered how the performance would handle the mechanics of the lip-syncing which played a huge part in the film.
The production pulled it off in a dramatic and effective manner by way of three Divas who were suspended in the air above the syncing performers beneath.
Credit once more to Catherine Mort along with Laura Mansell and Lisa-Marie Holmes for their acrobatic arias.
The musical production was a joy to listen too.
The musicians played the beloved disco tracks and camp classics of the score with real heart.
Beneath the brash and bright exterior beats a story with real heart. It is a story which has come into its own in our world where eastern European homophobia and US transgender hysteria is in our news most days.
The drama was shocking and dark when set against such a bright and happy background.
The audience reacted with each hateful blow and we felt the characters' pain.
Thankfully the darker moments are soon over and we get back to the show's central message of partying and dancing the blues away.
This is a show about love.
From the love of a friend, to the love of a child for his father as yet unknown, its all here in its various, complicated, occasionally messy, but always worthwhile forms.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is the perfect way to forget your troubles and clap and cheer and stamp away the blues.
Here's hoping her wheels roll on forever
STOP PRESS: Duncan James is recovering in hospital after undergoing an emergency operation on a slipped disc in his back.
The Blue singer turned Hollyoaks actor was admitted to Charing Cross hospital on Thursday afternoon, June 9, for the operation – but later took to Instagram to reassure his fans he is on the mend.
He said: "After a scary and painful op to remove a fragmented disc from my nerve canal I’m happily recovering in hospital feeling in such less pain and happier spirits. Thanks so much for all the well-wishes and loving support at this time. Duncan X."
His representative Paul Baylay also shared the photo on Twitter, saying: ‘Back on the road to recovery & doing well. @MrDuncanJames sends his love & thanks to everyone for the support’.
Duncan had been starring in The Adventures Of Priscilla: Queen Of The Desert at the Bristol Hippodrome but has now been forced to pull out of the rest of the run while he recuperates.
A statement on the show’s Facebook page confirmed the news.
It read: "The producers and everyone involved with the show wish Duncan a very speedy recovery."
The singer recently began filming his new role in Hollyoaks as Ryan, the boyfriend of Amy Barnes (Ashley Slamina-Davies), who is returning to the show for good this summer.
Preview: Priscilla is 'out' and back
Three years ago I saw Priscilla Queen of the Desert starring Jason Donovan at the Bristol Hippodrome. See review HERE.
This time the show returns with boy band favourite Duncan James, of Blue, as Tick.
And I am so excited.
The international smash hit musical plays Bristol from Monday to Saturday, May 30-June 11.
Duncan and his band has sold more than 16 million records, had three number one albums and 40 number one singles worldwide.
His stage credits include playing Warner Huntington III in the West End production of Legally Blonde and Billy Flynn in Chicago.
He was also a finalist on ITV1’s Dancing on Ice.
Joining Duncan are Simon Green as Bernadette, Adam Bailey as Felicia and Philip Childs as Bob.
Simon Green’s most recent stage credits include Bruce Ismay in Titanic both in Toronto and at the Southwark Playhouse; The World Goes Round at the Union Theatre and Monsieur André in The Phantom of The Opera on tour.
Adam Bailey most recently appeared as Espresso in the German production of Starlight Express.
His other theatre credits include Mary Sunshine in Chicago at Leicester Curve and Alan in Bare at the Greenwich Theatre.
Philip Childs played the role of Bob on the 2013 tour of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
He is currently appearing as Doctor Dillamond in Wicked at the Apollo Victoria.
Other recent theatre credits include Alan Bennett’s People and The Habit of Art at the National Theatre.
They are joined by: Richard Astbury; Rebecca Botterill; Matt Crandon; Peter Cumins; Amy Di Bartolomeo; Martin Harding; Lisa-Marie Holmes; Ricky Lee Loftus; Adam Lyons; Callum MacDonald; Laura Mansell; Catherine Mort; James Paul McAllister; Robin Mills; Craig Ryder; Naomi Slights and Julie Yammanee.
So get ready for the ride of your life!
Based on the movie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert the musical is the heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of.
With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and a hit parade of dancefloor favorites including Say A Little Prayer, Go West, Hot Stuff’ and Always On My Mind, this wildly fresh and funny new musical is a journey to the heart of faboulous.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert originally opened in Australia and after a sell-out two year run, opened in London’s West End followed by Broadway in the United States.
It has won numerous awards all over the world, including prestigious Olivier and Tony awards.
Tickets from £12.50 with concessions.