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Priscilla Queen of The Desert The Musical at New Wimbledon Theatre

Priscilla: Edwin Ray, Jak Allen-Anderson, Justin-Lee Jones
Priscilla: Edwin Ray, Jak Allen-Anderson, Justin-Lee Jones

Priscilla Queen of the Desert has gained enough currency over the years to be familiar with most people who would enjoy this sprightly revival, and while there are always newcomers to the show, it seemed to me that most of the audience at New Wimbledon Theatre were people who had already geared themselves up for the chart music extravaganza that this show is. It is something of an indictment on modern society that its story remains relevant years after its Australian premiere in 2006, and indeed the 1994 film on which this musical is adapted. Despite increasing encouragements on people to express themselves how they wish, for a drag queen to go out without inhibitions isn’t exactly risk-free, as Adam (Nick Hayes) finds out, the hard way.

The 2009-2011 West End production was so memorable (I went back several times) but I wonder if, in some ways, we do live in slightly more enlightened times – some of the punchlines, while still hard-hitting, didn’t seem to have the shock factor they did a decade ago. I suppose one of the questions those who have seen the show in any of its various previous incarnations around the world (this isn’t the first UK national tour) will want answered is whether this touring production has a full-sized bus on stage. Well, sort of. The staging in this regard is rather inventive, allowing for bits of set that come together to form the bus when required to be used for other purposes in different scenes.

Adam, otherwise known as Felicia, teams up with Bernadette (Miles Western) and Tick (Joe McFadden, of Strictly Come Dancing fame, or so I’m reliably informed – I haven’t seen that programme for some years), otherwise known as Mitzi. Bernadette has been around the block a few times, and this wealth of experience certainly has its advantages. Tick is bringing his drag queen friends along with him on a trip from Sydney to Alice Springs (approximately 1,723 miles according to Google Maps) where they are to perform a drag act at a casino. But there’s a subplot going on, too, as Tick balances his entertainment career with family responsibility, the former apparently taking precedence to the detriment of the latter, something which he’s trying to do something about.

There are disco musical numbers galore, including It’s Raining Men and I Will Survive, and if I had to choose a stand-out moment it would probably be Macarthur Park, where the costumes (Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels) come into their own alongside some lively choreography (Tom Jackson Greaves). Vocally, it’s the ‘Divas’ who steal the show – Aiesha Pease, Claudia Kariuki and Rosie Glossop – and their stage presence is reassuring, brimming with confidence and a sense of adventure.

It is easy to get to wrapped up in proceedings that one rather forgets quite how energetic this show is, and backstage is presumably busy more often than it isn’t, given the sheer number of costumes used during the performance. Some minor sound issues meant the odd lyric here and there was missed at the performance I attended, though this didn’t, ultimately, impact on the enjoyment of the production. A deserved standing ovation for a roof-raising night out, this is an uplifting and enjoyable musical with plenty of heart.

4 stars

Review by Chris Omaweng

The iconic musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert is touring the UK! With more glitter than ever before, this smash-hit show features a dazzling array of stunning costumes, fabulous feathers and a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics.

Why go and see it?
Based on the Oscar-winning film, Priscilla is the hilarious adventure of three friends on a heart-warming journey story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance.
The iconic musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert is going on tour! Starring Strictly Come Dancing winner Joe McFadden and with more glitter than ever before! This smash-hit show features a dazzling array of stunning costumes, fabulous feathers and a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, I Love The Nightlife and Finally!

Based on the Oscar-winning film, Priscilla is the hilarious adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus bound for the Outback to put on the show of a lifetime. Their epic journey is a heart-warming story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance.

Monday 7 October – Saturday 12 October 2019
NEW WIMBLEDON THEATRE
Tel: 0844 8717646

Monday 14 October – Saturday 19 October 2019
MALVERN FESTIVAL THEATRE
Tel: 01684 892277

Monday 21 October – Saturday 26 October 2019
BLACKPOOL WINTER GARDENS
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Monday 28 October – Saturday 2 November 2019
LEICESTER CURVE
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Tuesday 5 November – Saturday 9 November 2019
EDINBURGH PLAYHOUSE
Tel: 0844 8713014

Monday 11 November – Saturday 16 November 2019
LIVERPOOL EMPIRE THEATRE
Tel: 0844 8713017

Monday 18 November – Saturday 23 November 2019
INVERNESS EDEN COURT
Tel: 01463 234234

Monday 25 November – Saturday 30 November 2019
MANCHESTER PALACE THEATRE
Tel: 0844 8713019

Tuesday 17 December 2019 – Saturday 4 January 2020
BRIGHTON THEATRE ROYAL
Tel: 0844 871 7650

Monday 13 January – Saturday 18 January 2020
SOUTHAMPTON MAYFLOWER THEATRE
Tel: 02380 711811

Monday 20 January – Saturday 25 January 2020
PLYMOUTH THEATRE ROYAL
Tel: 01752 267222

Monday 27 January – Saturday 1 February 2020
NOTTINGHAM THEATRE ROYAL
Tel: 01159 895555

Monday 3 February – Saturday 8 February 2020
BORD GÁIS ENERGY THEATRE
Tel: 01 677 7999

Monday 10 February – Saturday 15 February 2020
CAMBRIDGE CORN EXCHANGE
Tel: 01223 357851

Monday 17 February – Saturday 22 February 2020
NEWCASTLE THEATRE ROYAL
Tel: 08448 112121

Monday 24 February 2020 – Saturday 29 February 2020
SOUTHEND CLIFFS PAVILION
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Monday 2 March 2020 – Saturday 7 March 2020
SHEFFIELD LYCEUM
Tel: 01142 496000

Monday 9 March 2020 – Saturday 14 March 2020
CARLISLE SANDS CENTRE
Tel: 01228 633766

Monday 16 March – Saturday 21 March 2020
WOKING NEW THEATRE
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Monday 23 March – Saturday 28 March 2020
IPSWICH REGENT THEATRE
Tel: 01473 433100

Monday 30 March – Saturday 4 April 2020
HULL NEW THEATRE
Tel: 01482 300306

Monday 6 April – Saturday 11 April 2020
OXFORD NEW THEATRE
Tel: 08448 713020

Monday 13 April – Saturday 18 April 2020
BIRMINGHAM HIPPODROME
Tel: 08443 385000

Monday 20 April – Saturday 25 April 2020
ROYAL & DERNGATE
Tel: 01604 624811

Tuesday 28 April – Saturday 2 May 2020
GLASGOW KING’S THEATRE
Tel: 0844 871 7648

Tuesday 5 May – Saturday 9 May 2020
CARDIFF WALES MILLENNIUM CENTRE
Tel: 02920 636464

Tuesday 12 May – Saturday 16 May 2020
BRISTOL HIPPODROME
Tel: 08448 713012

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