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Priscilla reigns ok

No outrageous fake titties but plenty of pelvis floor exercises involving popping ping pong balls are still part of this contemporary ‘absolutely fabulous’ stage production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Men in drag returned to the Bristol Hippodrome to tell the story of a road trip across the Australian outback by a SOGIE (undefined sexual orientation, gender identity and expression) group.

It’s a modern show not a 1980s Danny La Rue revue.

And it portrays a kind of loving as it mixes tender pleasure by a wonderful posse of different people, the very opposite of the roughnecks ‘wham bang thank you ma'am’ genre.

With, and it’s okay to say, a smattering of tranny bitchiness too.

Patrons of live theatre, in this instant mainly middle-aged women waving ‘get out of jail free' cards, monopolised the audience for the joyous post-lockdown moment.

Stars Miles Western (Bernadette Bassenger), Nick Hayes (Adam/Felicia) and Edwin Ray (Tick/Mitzi were Ab Fab on press night on Tuesday, September 28.

Retired drama teacher Lynda Dicks was so enthusiastic she declared that Miles outshone Bafta best actor nominated Terence Stamp as Bernadette in the 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert written and directed by Stephan Elliott – this is praise indeed.

She said: ”All three stars were a treat to  behold.

“With stunning costumes, amazing dancing, and uplifting music led by Richard Atkinson and such a ‘good to be alive’ atmosphere it was a night to remember.”

Lynda was blown away by the voice of Ronan Burns as tough Aussie miner who exchanged some naughty-but-nice asides with the lady in the stalls who guffawed at the oblique reference to sex in the style of that in the opening scene of tv drama Fleabag.

Almost a Rocky Horror interactive nod and wink.

Daniel Fletcher as Bob who is married to Cynthia a former stripper played by Gracie Lai was were both ‘exception’.

The magnificent cast also includes Rebecca Lisewski (Marion), Kevin Yates (Miss Understanding), and The Divas (Claudia Kariuki, Rosie Glossop and Aiesha Pease).

It is completed by Emma Katie Adcock, Jak Allen Anderson, Allie Daniel, Martin Harding, Clarice Julianda, Jemima Loddy, Nathan Ryles, Tom Scanlon and Jermaine Woods.

The iconic hit musical Priscilla has more glitter than ever before, featuring a dazzling array of stunning costumes, fabulous feathers and a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, I Love The Nightlife, Finally and many more. 

The dialogue is updated to include modern references

Based on the Oscar-winning film, Priscilla is the hilarious adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus bound for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime.

Their epic journey is a heart-warming story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance.

This brand-new production comes from the team behind the critically acclaimed UK tours of Hairspray; with direction by Ian Talbot, choreography by Tom Jackson-Greaves designs by Charles Cusick Smith and Phil R Daniels, lighting design by Ben Cracknell and sound design by Ben Harrison. 

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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The Musical has been developed for the stage by Simon Phillips with musical arrangements by Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy and orchestrations by Spud Murphy and Charlie Hull.

The first dance did tax the fitness level of the stage dancers who hadn’t performed for more than a year but once they warmed up all was good, said Lynda.

The set revolves around the ‘bus’ called Priscilla (a mock-up is now parked at Broken Hill a frontier mining town in New South Wales) which in a clever but simplistic set divides and opens to form the different scene settings.

This is not for the prudish and perhaps young children – two of my grandchildren went aged under 10 by mistake and some 20 years later can still talk about it!

From Grease to Beauty And The Beast and now Priscilla a professional and slick front-of-house operation ushered the full house queues into the theatre in double-quick time ensuring a safe environment for those determined to get out more.

Theatre-goers were overheard says ‘it was terrifically well organised’.

Producers Mark Goucher and former television soap idol Jason Donovan collaborated to put together the tour which because of Covid-19 was a stop/start problem poser.

The tour first opened in September 2019 and had just announced an extension in March 2020 when performances had to be paused due to Covid-19 restrictions.

 

REVIEW: Carol Deacon with information from

Lynda Dicks and Amanda Ward

PHOTOS: Darren Bell

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