MusicalReviewSouth West

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – Bristol Hippodrome

Reviewer: Francesca Parker

Director: Ian Talbot

Choreographer: Tom Jackson Greaves

Set Designer: Charles Cusick-Smith

Costume Designer: Phil R Daniels

It has been a very long eighteen months since theatre-goers had their last injection of musical goodness, and my goodness isn’t this a treat. The audience’s excitement was palpable, even before the curtain rise, there was an energy that has been unrivalled in recent years (pre COVID) at the Bristol Hippodrome.

25 years ago, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert first shot to fame and was immortalised in cinematic history. Its catchy and toe-tapping soundtrack, feel-good plot, and glitzy costumes are partly responsible for its continued popularity. However, now more than ever, in an increasingly accepting society, the story of three LGBTQ+ people on their travels through the Australian outback towards Alice Springs could not be more heart-warming.

The trials and tribulations they face as they drive from Sydney through the decidedly parochial communities in the desert, alongside their own moments of self-discovery, promote the act of total acceptance and self-love. From the Village People’s ‘Go West’ to Alicia Bridge’s ‘I Love the Nightlife’ there’s nothing to stop this fantastical train in its tracks.

Having starred in the original production, Jason Donovan’s knowledge and enthusiasm for Priscilla had invaluably aided Mark Goucher when creating this revamped production. Together they reimagined the show and, as a result, the soundtrack and set are nothing short of showstopping. By using a backdrop that imitates a corrugated tin fence, Phil R Daniels created a hugely effective blank canvas upon which to project the constant scene changes. Similarly, the costume designer, Charlie Cusick-Smith created a visual masterpiece littered with rainbow colour – a coincidence? I think not.

The live orchestra ticked every box and the depth of talent in the ensemble was phenomenal. But what was most refreshing for the audience was the diverse nature of the casting. The chorus were all different shapes and sizes, no two people fit the same mould – testament again to the message of the production. If this wasn’t enough to tantalise your senses, then Miles Western, Nick Hayes, and Edwin Ray would ensure that the deal was signed, sealed and delivered. This trio not only had vocals that could blow the cobwebs away, dance moves to envy, and legs to die for, they had that all-important chemistry. Performing as vastly different characters, their talents cannot be directly compared, but Hayes’ flare and pizazz really stole the show.

If in the world of post-lockdown entertainment, you’re finally starting to look for a place to ‘Shake Your Groove Thing’ and start ‘Spinning Around’ to some toe-tapping tunes, or if you’re more simply looking for some ‘Hot Stuff’, then you better get yourself down to the Bristol Hippodrome to watch Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

Runs until 2 October 2021

The Reviews Hub Score

A refreshing, feel-good musical

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The Reviews Hub - South West

The Southwest team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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