Apparently based on a hit cult film, Priscilla Queen of the Desert follows three drag queens as they make their way across Australia to perform a residency at a casino.
Of course, it’s a little more complex than that. Tick (aka Mitzi) is performing at his estranged wife’s casino, and is about to meet his son for the very first time in six years. His wife’s awfully cool about the whole situation, as is Benji (Tick’s son). Six years is nothing in the grand scheme of things, eh? It’s an unrealistic motivator for an otherwise plotless piece. The musical really only clings on to the hopes of laughs and plenty of dance tunes.
Our three leads are undoubtedly very talented. Joe McFadden (Tick / Mitzi) almost makes up for his previous performance in The House On Cold Hill, playing the part with ease and good humour. Of course, he doesn’t ooze the sex appeal and charisma the confident Adam (aka Felicia) does, but Nick Hayes is a masterpiece. He’s utterly fierce, vulnerable and extremely talented. The slightly older and more wise Bernadette is played brilliantly by Miles Western, and the romance between Bernadette and Bob (Daniel Fletcher) is lovely. The direction by Ian Talbot is very strong, and we feel a real connection with the three leads and want them to succeed on their journey. In a fairly airy musical such as this the leads are very easy to get lost in the noise, but Talbot ensures we’re rooting for them.
The ensemble cast add vibrancy and power to the show as we hear brash renditions of dance hits such as Go West, I Will Survive, It’s Raining Men and many more. It’s not my kind of music, but it certainly gets people in the audience jigging. The set is loud, the costumes are louder and it’s a magnificent all-singing, all-dancing musical – perfect for a girly night out. I’m not sure it’s quite my kind of thing, but if your ideal Saturday is a night on the town ending in The Viaduct in Leeds, then this absolutely must be on your ‘top musicals to see’ list.
Catch the show at Bradford Alhambra until 21st September.