Reviewed by Jan Dixon
An exuberant, outrageous storyline about drag artists and their experiences in the world of 1994! A feel-good performance with lots of audience participation!
This review is based on the opening night of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical on Monday 13th January 2020, being performed at the Mayflower Theatre, Southampton. The film was first performed 25 years ago in Australia; with the musical version being performed for the last 13 years. To date it has played in over 30 countries to over 10 million people.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical is based on a book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott; developed for the stage by Simon Phillips. The producers for this version of the musical are Jason Donovan and Mark Goucher, with the Director Ian Talbot. Orchestrations by Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy.
The introduction to the main characters was held at the Cockatoo Club, where Miss Understanding (Kevin Yates) was the over-the-top compere. This set the scene for the rest of the show – drawing the audience into the extravagant, elaborately colourful ‘campness ’ of the show. So enjoyed by the audience, who sang along to the well-known gay anthems. Miss Understanding certainly seemed to relish the role – mimicking the Tina Turner-style singling/dancing/strutting to fantastic effect!
The three main characters were played by Tick/Mitzi (Joe McFadden); Bernadette (Miles Western) and Felicia/Adam (Nick Hayes). Each of these expressed their vocal talent in keeping with the characterisation they were playing. In particular the voice of Bernadette was superb; clearly demonstrating the vocal range to great effect. Tick had more low-key, sentimental songs to sing; whilst Felicia fantastically showcased his lip-synch talent and vocal prowess in the gay anthems he ably performed with great style.
There were many dancers and additional vocal accompaniment, choreographed by Tom Jackson Greaves – who were brilliantly enthusiastic and exhausting to watch in drawing the audience into their cabaret-style world.
Singing throughout the entire performance were the Three Divas – played by Rosie Glossop, Claudia Kariuki and Aiesha Pease, who sang a huge repertoire of songs to set the stage for the different elements of the journey of Priscilla the tour bus through Australia. Fantastically able vocalists, they certainly enhanced the show and were always warmly welcomed by the appreciative audience.
Although there was humour and pathos throughout, a stand-out extremely funny set involved Cynthia (Jacqui Sanchez) demonstrating her specific ‘skills’ in a bar room scene, much to the embarrassment of her husband Bob (Daniel Fletcher). You will have to come and see the show to find out what these skills were!!!
Very, very highly recommended; definitely worth a 5 star rating! The standing ovation vouched for this! The show is on until 18th January 2020.
The Mayflower Theatre is close to railway links with a variety of car parks close-by. It is advisable to check the nearby Southampton football club fixtures as this can have an impact on the volume of traffic entering/leaving Southampton. Do allow for this when travelling to the venue. The theatre itself has recently been refurbished and looked stunning, with comfortable seating and plenty of leg room. Staff were very welcoming with a high standard of customer care.
Tickets cost from £19.50 to £46.50 (booking fees may apply).
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton from 13-18 January 2020, for more information or to book tickets visit www.mayflower.org.uk or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811