Ladies in Priscilla Queen of the Desert talk to us

Ladies in Priscilla Queen of the Desert talk to us

Make way for the real ladies of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical makes its fabulous debut in Cape Town at Artscape this week and will be running until Sunday, April 23.

Last week we spoke with the three lead actors in the production, the boys in drag Daniel Buys, David Dennis and Phillip Schnetler. This week we catch up with two actual females in the production: TARYN-LEE BUYS, who plays the role of Marion; and CANDICE VAN LITSENBORGH, who plays SHIRLEY in the flamboyant spectacular.

How were rehearsals? What have you particularly been enjoying about the process? What surprised you, and what has proved most challenging?

TARYN-LEE BUYS: Rehearsals were quite intense, with one less week than usual to put it all together. There are so many aspects of the show being thrown at you at once, which can be rather confusing, but you get it in the end. Just takes a bit of repetition. I love the music and the fact that the show moves quite quickly and quite seamlessly with a lot of underscoring which is great. It feels like the show has a pulse.

CANDICE VAN LITSENBORGH: I was surprised by how challenging the music actually is. We all know these songs – they’re karaoke classics, but the group numbers are tough. Even when you’re not physically on stage, the girls basically only stop singing while changing costume, and sometimes not even then.

Tell us about your character and the process you have undergone to realise them.

TARYN-LEE BUYS: I play the role of Marion, a casino manager who manages to convince her estranged drag-queen husband and father to her son Benji, to come out and do a show at her casino and meet his child. It hasn’t been too difficult a task. Daniel, who plays Tick/Mitzi, is my husband so that’s pretty fun and interesting.

CANDICE VAN LITSENBORGH: I play Shirley. To prepare for the role I gladly accepted any carbs the rest of the cast stared longingly at, and I stopped going to gym. Luckily the rest of the transformation comes from wigs, makeup and padding. It’s easy to make a stereotype of Shirl, and I’m glad I was given the advice to really just focus on her heart far above her physical appearance or what she says.

What can audiences look forward to with the production? For fans of the film, how will the stage adaption differ from the movie they love so much?

CANDICE VAN LITSENBORGH: It really is an extravaganza. The costumes, the energy, the laughs and the music don’t stop. I think the tone of the musical is lighter than the film. It’s more celebratory, not because the issues are any less relevant or have disappeared entirely, but because progress has been made in terms of creating and sustaining safe spaces for the LGBTQI community, at least in places where you’d see a production of Priscilla.

Why do you feel Priscilla Queen of the Desert remains relevant almost 25 years after the film debut?

TARYN-LEE BUYS: The message will always remain relevant. It’s about family and friendships and acceptance of others, no matter the circumstances. Being able to laugh at ourselves and take a chance from time to time.

* Book now at Computicket. This musical contains some strong language and adult themes, therefore parental guidance is recommended for children under the age of 12.

Candice von Litsenborgh as Shirley (third from left) in a scene from Priscilla Queen of the Desert nowon at Artscape Theatre in Cape Town.

Candice von Litsenborgh as Shirley (third from left) in a scene from Priscilla Queen of the Desert

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