Bristol Hippodrome

Priscilla Queen of the Desert April 2013

It's a girls-only road trip down under


Jason Donovan fans were ‘lucky, lucky, lucky’ to be among the excited audience on the opening night of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at the Bristol Hippodrome this week.

The musical is permanated with iconic gay anthems including some sing-a-long Kylie Minogue hits and the audience excitement was palpable when the Australian star made his entrance that you ‘wouldn’t want to change a thing’.

The stage was ‘raining men’ even if they were ‘hotties’ of ambiguous sexuality!

Based on the 1994 film of the same name starring Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp it tells the story of two drag queens and a transsexual on route to a cabaret gig in the middle of the Australian desert.

Okay, it is rude even a bit crude in places and possible not particularly PC especially its outback bar scene which is populated with country hicks – from a barmaid who had burned her bra to a Thai bride who shoots ping-pong balls from unmentionable parts of her body; from a brash reference to tampons to a male-on-male outdoor ‘camp’ – but it is very, very funny.

The show follows the adventures of the trio from Sydney to Alice Springs in a dilapidated tour bus that they have named Priscilla and paint pink.

The show-stopping costumes with huge platform heels, psychedelic frocks and head gear which looked as if it belonged to Marge Simpson are outrageously great.

Fine tuning his foot moves on Strictly Come Dancing Jason Donovan who plays Tick is joined on stage by the fantastic Richard Grieve, best known as Jonny Foster in Emmerdale, as the sophisticated Bernadette you almost believe (s)he is a real lady and stage star Graham Weaver as the slightly more butch but beautiful Felicia.

Bristol Post district reporter Heather Pickstock said: "It was one of the campest nights out I've had in a long time, but I loved every minute of it.

"From start to finish, Priscilla Queen of the Desert was a hoot.

"This high octane show was full of energy, packed full of innuendo right from the start, featuring colourful characters, an excellent musical score and a script which was a laugh a minute.

"The costumes throughout the show were elaborate, from the huge shoes to sparkly shift dresses, these three queens could walk better in heels than most women.

"Jason Donovan was effortless in his role as Tick and seemed to really enjoy the transformation into drag queen.

"He even looked pretty good in a corset – a world away from his pop hunk days as hunk Scott in the Australian soap Neighbours.

"Excitable Adam - and his female alter ego Felicia, played by Graham Weaver – brought the audience many laughs.

"But his performance also helped bring home the realities of the guys' situation when their flamboyant styles aren't appreciated by the country locals of the Australian outback and Felicia – in a pink mini dress - finds himself bruised and beaten after a night out in an outback bar.

"But it was Richard Grieve who was my favourite as post op transsexual Bernadette who joins Tick and Felicia on their journey across the desert following the death of her young husband Trumpet.

"Sensitive at moments yet with the wit and sarcasm of an old dame, Bernadette stole the show and we were all glad when she meets mechanic Bob whocomes to the rescue of the trio in the desert when their camper van breaks down.

"The show also had some very moving moments too.

"The theatre fell into silence when Tick – after performing in Alice Springs – meets his son for the first time.

"You could hear people grabbing for their tissues as father and son sing an emotional rendition of Elvis’s Always on My Mind."

"Add to all this some of the best one-liners I’ve heard, and you’re all set for a roadtrip to musical heaven- so hop on board for a shamelessly flamboyant and uplifting adventure."

The supporting cast including the dancers all received a standing ovation in fact the audience were on its feet long before the finale had finished.

Local boys Callum John Geddes and Fabian Muldoon, from Weston-super-Mare, alternate in the role of Benji and their final bow calls for them to hop on stage wearing a baby kangaroo outfit!

The UK tour of the international smash hit musical plays at the Bristol Hippodrome until Saturday, April 27.

It was a toy boy bonanza in Bristol as shortly after the show closed the Ladyboys of Bangkok arrived in town.

Carol Deacon