Monday, 18 January 2016

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
Nottingham Royal Concert Hall.

 Adapted from Stephan Elliott's 1994 film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the musical tells the story of two drag queens and a transgender woman, who contract to perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs, a resort town in the remote Australian desert. As they head west from Sydney aboard their pink bus, Priscilla, the three friends come to the forefront of a comedy of errors, encountering a number of strange characters, as well as incidents of homophobia, while widening comfort zones and finding new horizons.

The last time I saw this, I commented that Jason Donovan, who reprises the role of Tick, aka Mitzi Mitosis, could have camped it up more, after all this is one, if not the most camp musicals around. This time around Jason ramped up the camp and I loved it. Tick's character was once married and he has a son, Benji, who he hasn't seen, and by accepting the cabaret slot would also mean he could get to know his son, as his wife, Marion, runs the venue where the floorshow/cabaret will be held.

Loved the two sides of Tick; the doting father who wants to meet his son, but is afraid of what his son's reaction to his homosexuality and his drag persona, and the outrageous alter ego, Mitzi. Donovan didn't take himself too seriously either. While discussing Kylie Minogue with Adam/Felicia, he comments that he always fancied Scott (Robinson), the role Jason played in "Neighbours". Donovan looked relaxed and at ease with the character, and that's what made us believe in the character. His voice is also as strong as it always has been as he belts out the many disco hits from the soundtrack.

Robin Mills played the role of Adam/Felicia, the other drag queen of the trio. the youngest of the three characters and the most headstrong. This was proven when he went into the Aussie outback redneck bar in full drag looking for some "Hot Stuff" and getting a little more than he bargained for. Again when you scratch the surface of the foundation and make up, there's a sensitive side to the character who just wants to be loved. Robin also has a good set of lungs on him, as shown in his version of Kylie's "Confide In Me".

Bernadette, the elder transgender character, is played by Simon Green. the more sensible one of the three and one of the old school of female impersonators, and the butt of Felicia's jokes and often quite cruel remarks. There's a wonderful scene where Tick meets up with Bernadette at Trumpet's funeral. Trumpet being Bernadette's partner, and you find out how he got that nickname, and it's nothing to do with his musical abilities either!! A classy performance by Green who you really hope finds the happy ending he is seeking. And with Bob in for the ride, he may just do that.

Bob is the mechanic who finds them, after their bus breaks down, and takes them into his home. He fixes the bus and then travels with them to Alice Springs for the cabaret gig. Not your usual Aussie redneck from the area as he sticks up for Felicia and Bernadette when trouble with the locals get ugly.

Some brilliant lesser characters in Cynthia ( Julie Yammanee ), the ping pong popping wannabee star who is married to Bob, and the female bar owner whose chest has an acting role of their own. And then there's Miss Understanding, played by Callum MacDonald, and don't you dare turn up late when she's on stage! Tick's son, Benji, is a cutie as well and delivers a really confident performance. Two young actors take turn with the role and tonight it was the turn of William Rhead, who shares the role throughout the run with Toby Gretton.

The other star of the production, which deserves a mention, is Priscilla, the bus, which was the concept of Brian Thomson.

As you can imagine the costumes, designed by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, are just amazing, as is the make up from Cassie Hanlon. And while we're talking production crew, the lighting of the show created a wonderfully colourful spectacle and was the work of Nick Schlieper. The show was directed by Simon Phillips and co-choreographed by the late Ross Coleman and Andrew Hallsworth. the music was under supervision of Matthew J Loughran.

Much as I loved the show last time it was here, this time I loved it even more. It brought out the inner camp in me (some would say that this doesn't take a lot). The pink production contained so many glittery hits that everyone can shake their groove thang to. Hits like "I Will Survive", "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", "Finally", "Go West", "Can't Get You Outta My Head", "Downtown", "Colour My World", "MacArthur Park" and "Don't Leave Me this Way", will have you throwing your Chloe clutch bag into the ring to dance round in your Jimmy Choos.

Brilliantly entertaining show with a wonderful, talented cast and some of your favourite ping pong popping pink pound party platters that will have you dancing out into the night air all this week, up to Saturday 23 January 2016.

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