Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical,
**** 4 Stars
It’s hard to believe that 25 years have passed since the original motion picture of the Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert first entered the cinemas, its story of two drag queens and a transsexual criss crossing the Australian outback in a 1960’s tour bus was ultimately a story of acceptance, love and discovering that ultimately we all belong in this world.
12 years after the film the stage production debuted in Australia, with a juke box collection of classic hits and warm heart at its core, the musical took the world by storm with both extended west end and Broadway runs.
After several previous UK tours the show is back in a brand-new reimaging and with previous star of the show Jason Donovan now producing its time for a fresh take on a modern classic. The Story remains fully intact, with Tick ( a wonderfully charming Joe McFadden) and his drag alter ego Mitizi discovering its time to get to know his son who lives with his mother in a casino in Alice Springs, he rounds up his Friends, a big hearted transsexual Bernadette (an emotionally truthful turn from Miles Western) and young know it all Adam with his drag persona Felicia ( a strong physical performance from Nick Hayes) packing there lives into the bus known as Priscilla they set out on a voyage of discovery.
Director Ian Talbot and Choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves have really brought the heart out in this production and rely on that to carry the show and it works to great effect, in amongst the pop and disco classics such as Boogie Wonderland, Pop Muzik and I will survive which have stunning and crisp dance moves through out. There are also moments which genuinely touch the heart.
When the queens come face to face with the most horrible homophobia and discover they must never forget the cost of the choices they make, it’s a rendition of “True Colours” that speaks volumes, a beautifully judged performance from Miles Western truly captures the hurt, paint and ultimately hope for something better.
Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels Set and Costume Design does overall bring new life to the show, with many of the iconic costumes being refreshed or completely altered to great effect, even the set works for the majority of the time. However, the reveal of Priscilla herself is hugely underwhelming to the point of disappointment. The divas don’t fly, and the spectacular moments of previous productions have been lost. It does mean the show can visit smaller venues on the tour but thanks to excellent performances it doesn’t cheapen the production overall.
Ben Cracknell’s Lighting design is excellent and sparkles in Technicolor glory to the intimate lighting of Ayr’s rock at dusk combined with Ben Harrison’s rich sound design that brings the 7-piece pit band to life with aplomb the production elements succeed in fully supporting the overall production.
Priscilla’s greatest message is that we regardless of colour, class, sexuality or creed do belong in this world and deserve to be accepted for the individuals we are. It’s a message that’s more potent than ever in the current climate we live in. So why not pop along to the Playhouse and join the queens on the most epic of adventures!
Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical, Edinburgh Playhouse, Runs until Saturday 9th November, UK tour continues for tickets go to: https://www.atgtickets.com/shows/priscilla-queen-of-the-desert-the-musical/edinburgh-playhouse/