Priscilla Queen of the Desert – Bord Gais Theatre
3 Feb 2020 – 8 Feb 2020
The film of ‘The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ was released in 1994. It was an international success and helped launch the careers of both Hugo Weaving and Guy Pearce. The story told of a road trip by two drag queens and a transgender woman across the Australian Outback in a bus they called Priscilla.
It was always an obvious choice to be converted into a musical and it debuted in Australia at the Lyric Theatre, Sydney in October 2006. The musical was written by the original writer/ director Stephan Elliott, along with Allan Scott and it contains a multitude of well-known pop hits such as It’s Raining Men, Hot Stuff, I Will Survive and Finally. The musical was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical as well as two Tony Awards.
This production is produced by ex-Neighbour Jason Donovan and stars Joe McFadden (who won Strictly Come Dancing in 2017), Nick Hayes and Miles Western. It is directed by Ian Talbot, who is a stalwart of the London stage and was the Artistic and Managing Director of The Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park.
The staging is quite simple and there are no lavish sets with much left to the imagination. Instead, the production goes all out on the costumes which are suitably fun and exotic. Despite the stage time of almost two and a half hours this musical never drags. It sets a ferocious pace as we see our intrepid gang move from town to town on their journey from Sydney to Alice Springs, bringing glamour into the lives of the local inhabitants. However, some are more willing to accept this gift than others!
There is a seven-piece live band hidden in the wings and also three Motown style Divas who add some substance to the songs. There is a touch of Mamma Mia in the production as the cast work through an instantly recognisable songbook. The list of tunes should be well known to all and you can expect many 80’s hits, with a certain emphasis on disco and dance floor numbers. If you’re looking for a challenging night of theatre, it is certainly not here. The more troubling elements of the film are glossed over and their problems are easily solved. Instead, we get a fun production whose smile never slips, but isn’t that what Musical Theatre is all about?
The production runs until this Saturday (8th Feb 2020) at the Bord Gais Theatre.