Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert–The Musical, Jan 30, 2018 ****1/2

Book by Stephan Elliott & Allan Scott, music by various artists 
Presented by Michael Cassel Group & Nullabor Productions, with MGM On Stage
Regent Theatre, no closing date but must close by May 2018. 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: ****1/2
 Review also published in Herald Sun News on Wed Jan 31, 2018, and in Arts/Lifestyle (online & print) on Thurs Feb 1, 2018. KH
L-R: David Harris, Tony Sheldon, Euan Doidge
Slap on your false eyelashes, bouffant wigs, sequined gowns and stilettos because Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is back and it’s chock-a-block with camp innuendo, cheeky choreography and eye-poppingly garish costumes.
Simon Phillips’ irreverent production is a feast of absurd lip-syncing and classic, disco tunes including: It’s Raining Men, I Love The Nightlife, I Will Survive and Shake Your Groove Thing.
This effervescent night belongs to its accomplished, vivacious leads (Tony Sheldon, David Harris, Euan Doidge) who play three drag queens going on tour in a battered bus to Alice Springs to put on a kaleidoscopic drag show for yobs in pubs!
Sheldon uses old-fashioned comic timing, double-takes and face-pulling in a well-measured performance as Bernadette, an ageing transsexual, veteran drag artiste yearning for middle-class elegance and normality.
Harris balances Tick’s sassy, drag persona, Mitzi, with Tick’s real life vulnerability, and his rendition of I Say A Little Prayer poignantly captures Tick’s pining for his unknown son.
Doidge completes the trio as the audacious Felicia, the outrageous, young drag queen who delivers sultry versions of Hot Stuff and Better The Devil You Know.
Blake Appelqvist is outstanding as mischievous Miss Understanding, belting out What’s Love Got To Do With It?, while Robert Grubb is sympathetic as Bob, the outback mechanic, and Lena Cruz is a firecracker as his ‘mail order wife’, performing her hilariously vulgar (and racist?) Pop Muzik routine.

Below the stage, the tight band (arrangements, Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy) performs the disco tunes with gusto, while the three Divas (Angelique Cassimatis, Samm Hagen, ClĂ© Morgan), with their exceptional voices, command the space overhead.
A talented ensemble shines in musical numbers featuring vibrant choreography (Ross Coleman, Andrew Hallsworth), vividly kitsch costumes and unwieldy headdresses (Tim Chappel, Lizzy Gardiner), while the evocative production design (Brian Thomson) and lighting (Nick Schlieper) complete this gaudy production.

Melbourne, grab a vodka martini and strap yourself in for a lavish, crass, high-camp road trip on a glittering bus called Priscilla.
By Kate Herbert 

Director: Simon Phillips

Designer: Brian Thomson
Musical Director: Stephen Gray
Arrangements: Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy
Choreographers: Andrew Hallsworth and Ross Coleman
Costumes: Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner
Lighting: Nick Schlieper
'I Will Survive' - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo by Ben Symons
Euan Doidge as Felicia - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo by Ben Symons

Tony Sheldon as Bernadette - 'Les Girls' - Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Photo by Ben Symons

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