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Review- Priscilla Queen of The Desert: I left the theatre with a smile from ear to ear

By Liv Wilson

Priscilla Queen of The Desert

By Stephen Elliot and Allan Scott

Based on the Latent Image/Specific Films Motion Picture Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.

Developed for the stage and original direction by Simon Phillips

Co-Direction by Madeline Johns and Taylah McLennan

Musical Direction by Sherree Drummond

Choreography by Jennifer Morison

Production Managed by Stacey Goodwin and Isabelle Quayle

Staging Direction by Johnathan Johns

Based on the 1994 popular movie of the same name, Priscilla Queen of the Desert follows the journey of two drag queens, Tick and Adam, and a transgender woman, Bernadette, as they travel across Australia in their bus, named Priscilla. Tick has been asked to perform at a hotel in Alice Springs by his estranged wife, Marion. Taking Adam and Bernadette along with him, the trio drives from Sydney to the remote resort town in the middle of the desert. This extravagant tour through the centre of Australia is filled with fan-favourite pop songs and feel-good moments that pull on the heartstrings of anyone who has experienced feeling different.

Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert was a fun-filled, flamboyant affair with a fantastic balance of nostalgia and new.

The production was superbly led by Shannon Foley (Bernadette), Conor Ensor (Tick) and Alex Watson (Felicia) as the trio of famous drag queens. These three performers were eye-catching, over-the-top in all the right ways and embodied their characters to perfection.

Watson was a pocket rocket and had incredible stage presence the entire time he was on stage. His acting in the camp dramatised scenes, as well as the vulnerable moments, was fantastic. Ensor’s vocals were some of the strongest in the show and he brought a truthful depth to his character that wasn’t a direct replication of Hugo Weaving’s performance in the film. Foley’s portrayal of Bernadette was exceptional; the understated sass and total incarnation of the character showed just how experienced a performer Foley is.

Madeline John’s casting of the three leads was expertly done and provided a well-balanced foundation for the rest of the ensemble. Various directional choices didn’t entirely support the flow of the show, notably in Act 1 when there was less happening to pull your attention.

The larger ensemble numbers were particularly good, especially vocally, however, I would have liked to see a more polished execution of the choreography.

Paige Mackay, who played Diva 2, is one to watch, her stage presence and vocals were top-notch. I found myself seeking her out, she was a joy to watch on stage. The other Divas (Maddison Coleman and Laura Greenhalgh) were both strong vocally but the blend of their voices wasn’t always complimentary. I’m sure with more shows under their belt (and the nerves of opening night fading), this trio will smooth out any harsh vocals.

Priscilla Queen of The Desert wouldn’t be as iconic without the extravagant costumes to compliment the 3 queens on their journey. The costuming was spectacular and replicated the movie to perfection. It was quite show stopping and extremely satisfying to see RMT honour this important part of the Priscilla legacy.

There were several technical issues during the show including loud microphone feedback, late lighting cues and backstage crew seen in the wings but these certainly didn’t take away from the show being a fun break from reality.

I would be mistaken to leave out a mention for Rebel Bliss (Cynthia) and Adrian Carr (Bob) for their extremely entertaining portrayals of their characters.

I’m pleased to see that the season of RMT’s Priscilla is touring to Ipswich after their run at Redcliffe Entertainment Centre. I believe that the entire production will get even better as they experience more time together as an ensemble. The cast and crew have done a wonderful job considering the impact that COVID and the recent flooding would have had on the team.

I left the theatre with a smile from ear to ear, it was a fabulously entertaining show and I urge everyone to make time to see it before the glitz and glamour is packed up.

Redcliffe Musical Theatre’s production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is playing at the Redcliffe Entertainment Centre until March 20th and then touring to the Ipswich Civic Centre for a quick season starting April 6th. This production is worth getting to whether it be for the vibrant costumes, the nostalgic songs or the heart-warming displays of ‘sisterhood’. Tickets start at $65 and can be booked online or bought at the box office.


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