Priscilla Queen of the Desert
June 2017 saw the Warwick Arts Centre showered with fun, fascination, and fabulousness as Three Spires and Guild Hall took to the stage with their rendition of Priscilla Queen of the Desert. This beloved musical tells the tale of two drag queens and a transgender woman who travel across the Australian outback in their extraordinary bus, ‘Priscilla’, to perform a drag show in a resort in Alice Springs; a place that is more remote than their usual haunts, though certainly has its allure, for one of them in particular.
The show opened with pizzazz and had the entire audience gripped from the first moment with the company’s performance of It’s Raining Men, swiftly followed by the director, Jamie Sheerman, in drag with a dazzling, purple, glitter-filled beard, belting out What’s Love Got To Do With It; a performance that rivalled Tina Turner herself!
All the musical numbers that followed were delivered in spectacular fashion from a highly talented ensemble; special mention to Sam Walton, Ian Meikle and Luke Bingham who were eye-catching and forever on point whenever they graced the stage. Strong accompaniment came from ‘The Divas’ who were played by Kayleigh Brook, Kelsey Checklin and Claire Tyler whose voices were quite the powerhouse, even when they were flying in from the rafters! The youngest performer of the night was Oliver Butler who stepped into his role of Benji, the son of Tick and reason for our protagonists’ journey, with great ease and flare; obviously a natural to performing.
However, the highest accolades of the night must go to the three leads of the show; Craig Garner’s Tick/Mitzi, Doug Gilbey-Smith’s Adam/Felicia and Steve Smith’s Bernadette were all, quite honestly, phenomenal. Each of them took every viewer on a journey: one of excitement, of sorrow, of hardship, of friendship. Their singing voices, both individually and as a unit were sensational, their dancing was perfectly conveyed and breath-taking to watch, they delivered humour and endearment whilst also producing heart-rendering scenes with some of the more difficult undertones of the tale. They stood strong in every moment of their performances and made this show a night to remember.
A production of this calibre speaks volumes about how many people and how much time and talent it takes to create it. The musical numbers themselves were expertly directed by Richard Taggart, the choreography by Julie Bedlow-Howard was both prestigious and outstanding, the costumes, orchestrated by Jayne Morris, were a true sight to behold and showed off the alluring ‘magical’ element behind a theatre production with how many changes there were throughout! Jamie Sheerman presented a show full of magnificence, style, glamour and awe; quite unbelievable that this was his directional debut.
At its end, there was not just a standing ovation, but a dancing one; every audience member was up on their feet for the finale, making a spectacle that Kylie herself would’ve been proud of! Review by Lee Holt, Pulse Productions