Producer: Mark Goucher/Jason Donovan
Director: Ian Talbot
Choreographer: Tom Jackson-Greaves
It’s safe to say that, after 18 months of pandemic-induced closure, the first show welcomed to the stage at Cardiff’s New Theatre, is worth the wait.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert storms in boldly and brashly, taking the audience on a whirlwind, drag-laced tour through not just the Australian outback, but also attitudes towards drag, transsexuality, and acceptance – while featuring a phenomenal back catalogue of karaoke classics to glittery-boot.
When an outlandish trio of drag queens decide to take to the desert in Priscilla, a beaten up, yet fashion-heavy, old school bus, determined to get to a new location of Alice Springs with more than a little family connection, it was always going to be an interesting journey. And we’re given nothing less than promised.
With track after track of crowd-pleasers (It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, and Say A Little Prayer), eye-popping colourful costumes, and energetic dance numbers from a talented ensemble, Priscilla takes us on a wild ride, with the audience struggling to stay in their seat for the duration of the show.
In Miles Western, Nick Hayes, and Edwin Ray’s performance of Bernadette, Felecia/Adam, and Tick/Mitzi we’re given life, love, and more than a little bit of lip-syncing. They’re equal parts sassy and soft, brilliantly bringing their characters’ stories to life, while managing to maintain a tongue-in-cheek playfulness, and never taking themselves too seriously. The background singers too, are the understated stars of the show, taking it to the next vocal level and bringing an unignorable talent, as well as a smile to the audience’s lips.
The set is witty and clever, eliciting more than a few oohs and aahs, and the choreography is filled with fun and flair. It’s a performance that pretty much demands you enjoy it – while touching on timely and deeper topics in a light-hearted manner, keeping the energy up without belittling their importance.
It’s not perhaps the best storyline or the most complex, nuanced, or intense performance, but that’s absolutely not what you’re there for.
Given the past 18 months, you couldn’t ask for a better return to the stage as Priscilla, flawlessly and joyfully, takes its garishly feathered, well-deserved turn in the Welsh capital. It’s the tonic we all needed, and hope to see more of.
Runs until 25 September 2021