Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical is the most ridiculous fun you can have at the theatre and it’s a crowd-pleasing spectacle of a show the likes of which I’ve never seen before.
Think glitter balls, sequins and your favourite pop classics mixed in with a story of friendship, family and finding love in the most unexpected places.
The story follows Mitzi Mitosis – real name Anthony “Tick” Belrose – who is on his way to perform in Alice Sprints and meet his son for the very first time, all the while questioning if he can really be a father. He’s about to play the role of a lifetime. He is accompanied by drag performers flirty young upstart Felicia, and the older, wiser and way classier Bernadette.
They travel in the not so reliable Priscilla, an old school bus who turns out to be a star in her own right. She spins, lights up and makes for a fabulous cocktail bar. Poor old Priscilla has seen better days and when she claps out in the desert our three heroes are recused by the unexpected chivalry of Bob the mechanic, played by Rey Meagher (best known as Alf Stewart from Home and Away) with great heart and comedy timing.
Check out what Ray Meagher had to say about the show in this KUWNZ Meets video.
The script is quick-witted with a razor sharp tongue (I wish I could remember more of the great put-downs and they can always come in handy).
The musical numbers are all popular songs reworked so ostentatiously it would make Lady Gaga squint. Tunes include ‘It’s Raining Men’, ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’ and ‘Go West’ to name a few. Each one is accompanied by wonderful costumes, oh the costumes, so much fun they’ll have you smiling from head to toe – and assessing your now apparently drab attire.
Obviously, the cast and ensemble are gorgeous and ooze energy and fun out of every pore. There’s not a bum note in sight but you might get a flash of a few bums if you’re lucky. Shout out to Lena Cruz who’s portrayal as Cynthia, Bob’s wife is memorable to say the least. And, to really tug at those heart strings there is a delightful performance from young Lukas Maher, as Tick’s son Benji.
Vocally the show sounds brilliant too – the three singing angels that descend from the rafters often lead the charge with perfect harmonies or intro a medley with the full cast. However, it is the solo performances that are the real show stoppers and man some of those solos are phenomenal. Notably, Felicia’s final song really took my breath away.
That brings me back to our principle cast of great entertainers giving wonderful performances. Simon Green as Bernadette brings the next level of grace and swagger alongside his excellent delivery of those cutting put-downs. Tick, portrayed by Bryan Buscher-West shares sweet and emotional moments on stage as well as lively all out flamboyance. Andre Torquato who plays Felicia probably get’s to have the most fun with his character and he does so with gusto. Excellent moves and a belting voice make his performance the most memorable of the night. Rey Meagher is adorable as Bob in his heart-warming and affectionate interactions with Bernadetta and he holds his own with a short solo too.
Big hair, big costumes and even bigger numbers make this an experience not to be missed at Auckland’s Civic Theatre.
Reviewed by Ingrid Grenar.