20-24 October 2015
Reviewed by Katy Nettleton
Last night I attended the Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham to see the comedy musical Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
What they say:
Winner of 4 WhatsOnStage.com awards, including Best New Musical, and based on the smash-hit movie, PRISCILLA is the heartwarming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they had ever dreamed of. With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and a hit parade of dancefloor classics including ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Say a Little Prayer’, ‘Go West’, ‘Hot Stuff’, Boogie Wonderland’ and ‘Always on My Mind’, this wildly fresh and funny new musical is a journey to the heart of FABULOUS!
Where do I start..?
Well if you are looking at this review you are most probably considering if to go and see this musical… well as with all musicals it is personal preference but my opinion is book now! It is not a show you want to miss – a true West End performance of quality demonstrated from lighting to the music to costumes to staging to casting (throughout).
I was not sure what to expect when I walked in to the theatre; there were drag queens meeting and greeting; dressed up for the night and with sky-scraper heels on making me wish I had put mine on for the evening! As usual with the theatre the hospitality of the staff was exceptional, with all being helpful courteous and approachable – including those who were dressed up for the occasion!
I am no musical theatre expert but when you go and watch a show of this calibre you can’t help become part of the show. It made me empathise with the 3 key characters: Tick, Bernadette and Felicia (Adam) and feel their emotions (the sad and happy ones!) and got me clapping and signing along (even though my singing skills are below the standards of my 2 year old!). It gave me goose bumps and shivers up my spine in parts, and made me want to go up and personally thank the cast for delivering a performance which took me to a place far away from Birmingham and my work I had just left. The lighting was amazing (although I have to admit at one point I was glad I had not had anything to drink as it was making me go a little dizzy looking at it!) and the music was perfect – just to right tempo and volume to engage you yet, you could hear the amazing voices of the cast. I knew most of the songs, and could sing along as loudly or quietly as I liked… (to others dismay most probably!).
There was a section “for audience participation” and not to spoil the surprise I was glad I was in the middle – I am not sure I had the “skills” to be able to join in, but the audience did an amazing job and again, truly brought the show alive.
If I am being totally critical there were a couple of timing errors with the stage crew when props were being moved around, and the microphone failed twice; however the performer continued without pause and her voice could be heard clearly – showing off her amazing talent. Technical errors can occur for all manner of things and these did not divert attention away from the play or affect it in any way – and as there is nothing else for me to critique!
The staging was brilliant, and the bus looked like a real one when it came on!! The way in which the props were moved on and off the stage were seamless (mostly) – I tried to find the tracks which must have been on the stage floor to move the props but I couldn’t see them (I was sat in the stalls!). This demonstrates the attention to detail the designers/staging team have made to take this show on tour!
Words cannot describe how striking, outrageous and theatrical the costumes were and I think these made the show for me (obviously vocals, play and staging were amazing too) but for me I just loved the costumes! I want to know how they managed to dance and run in heals that were ridiculously high and put my “tottering on 3 inch heels to shame!” The attention to detail for each and every outfit was noticeable – even if this was the men’s boxer shorts as they were changing into costume!!
For those who would like to see Jason Donovan on tour and relive your youth from when he was on Neighbours – you won’t be disappointed. His voice was amazing and with snippets of songs from “the good old Neighbour days” and references to “Charlene and Scott” made me feel like a young child again! He truly is a professional and vocally I could not find any faults (although I was trying!).
For me I felt that all the cast could take the lead of a musical, their voices were strong, their characteristics/acting brought the songs and feelings alive and they made me feel like they were having fun, that is why I go to the theatre… To have fun! This truly was a triumph, with a range of voices and personalities which complimented each other and the script perfectly.
Overall I would give this 5/5 and recommend anyone to go and watch (that is if you don’t get offended easily!). A true quality, entertaining and extravagant musical.
Tickets cost from £15 to £45 (plus £4 transaction fee).
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is at the New Alexandra Theatre in Birmingham until 24 October 2015. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 0844 871 3011.
New Alexandra Theatre, Suffolk Queensway, Birmingham, West Midlands, B5 4DS