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Review: Priscilla Queen Of The Desert at Sunderland Empire

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 A Fabulous Road Trip

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
Monday 31st August – Saturday 5th September 2015

Based upon the 1994 film of the same name, Priscilla is a stunning musical filled full of popular songs.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Photo: Paul Coltas
Tick (Duncan James) is a drag queen who lip syncs along to songs in a club in Sydney, Australia.  A phone call from his wife Marion (Naomi Slights) points out that his son is missing him and perhaps he should visit him. As the family live in Alice Springs, in central Australia, Tick will have to go on a road trip. Marion also needs an act to entertain people at her business and so the trip will solve that problem too.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Photo: Paul Coltas
Tick asks the young carefree Adam (Adam Baily) and Bernadette, who is longer in the tooth, (Simon Green) along to help him with the performance. They buy a bus and name it Priscilla and set off for a six day journey to Alice Springs. At the stop offs they plan to rehearse the new show.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Photo: Paul Coltas
There are some key differences between the film and this Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott penned musical is that the bulk of the singing in the film is mimed to the original recordings of the songs. In the musical either the songs are sung live directly or mimed as others sing. To help create this lip-syncing effect with have 3 amazing divas who descend onto the stage to support. The wonderful voices of Lisa-Marie Holmes, Laura Mansell and Catherine Mort really add to the power of the performances.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Photo: Paul Coltas
The live band under musical director Matthew J Loughran did not put a note wrong as the music added life to the story. From Downtown to I Will Survive via Don’t Leave Me This Way and Always On My Mind, the classic hits keep coming.

The costumes are as flamboyant as they are stunning and the lead characters are given very little time at times to change their dresses. The wardrobe department must be working overtime behind the scenes.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Photo: Paul Coltas
The real winners are the wonderful personalities of the 3 singers on the road trip. Simon Green and Adam Bailey pull of the often dry humour with very funny results. Duncan James has moved from singing in Blue to musical star very easily. The early appearance of his naked top half made for loud approval from the audience. That aside, he did deliver the concerns of a father missing his son well.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Photo: Paul Coltas
The second half is meant to feature problems with Priscilla the bus, but she literally broke down resulting in a pause in the proceedings as she was one girl that didn’t want to have fun.  There followed a quick recovery by the cast when it did restart as mechanic Bob (Philip Childs) was offered a lift back home.

Priscilla is a gorgeous, bright and loud production with a dry sense of humour. It is thoroughly entertaining and full of great songs.  

On The Web:


Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Photo: Paul Coltas
In person at the Box Office on High Street West

Box Office: 0844 871 3022*

Groups 10+: 0844 871 3042

Booking fee applies to telephone and online sales

Tour Dates

Monday 31 August – Saturday 5 September
Monday 14 September – Saturday 19 September
Mayflower Theatre, Southampton
Monday 21 September – Saturday 26 September
Monday 2 November – Saturday 7 November

Monday 14 March – Saturday 19 March
Congress Theatre, Eastbourne -
Monday 21 March – Saturday 26 March
Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury -
Tuesday 29 March – Saturday 2 April
Monday 4 April – Saturday 9 April
Royal & Derngate, Northampton
Monday 11 April – Saturday 16 April
Torquay Princess Theatre

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