The highly anticipated Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical has moved into the Artscape Opera House with much glitz, glam and overwhelming audience applause. A drag queen with a son, his cross dressing friend, and a transgender chanteuse take a desert road-trip on a colourful bus and show everyone that it is absolutely acceptable and fashionably encouraged to be fabulously you in the truest of ways. Pure musical magic!
Based on the award-winning movie, with original book by Stephen Elliot and Allan Scott, the South African staging of Priscilla brings together an exceptional, multi-talented cast with colourful set and costume design. It creates a vibrant canvas for the exploration of the themes of self-acceptance, sense of community, and non-traditional families, in a big, bold, and brilliant world-class musical.
Through a collection of well-known, toe-tapping, eye-lash batting pop songs, such as ‘It’s Raining Men’ and ‘What’s Love Got To Do With It?’ to name but two, Priscilla presents a show that leaves the audience feeling empowered by its message of acceptance and inclusiveness. Not only is it a great musical, but also an ever relevant one, placing the spotlight on the challenges the LGBTQIA community still faces daily. Everyone deserves a place in the sun and under the rainbow, and uniqueness needs to be celebrated!
The musical very trendily communicates its message without creating a heavy or melodramatic atmosphere, but rather speaks to the audiences with heart, humour and obviously glitter coloured buckets of glam and dance-numbers with attitude. Truly fun, the whole show is over-the-top spectacular with outrageous costumes and characters, presented in the most exquisite and delightfully vibrant way. After seeing ‘Priscilla’you will wish that the real moon also be replaced with a mirror ball, so that you can boogie every night away, while humming ‘True Colours’ for days and eating cake in the rain.
David Dennis as the transgender Bernadette, a songstress in search of true love and the revival of her career following the death of her beloved Trumpet, is the undeniable star of the show. Dennis elegantly and eloquently, with the most amazing vocals, becomes a larger than life presence on the stage with a truly endearing performance. There is a great balance of energy between Dennis as Bernadette and Daniel Buys as Tick (Mitzi), a female impersonator with a secret family. However, the onstage dynamic between Dennis and Phillip Schnetler as the flamboyant Adam (Felicia) is one that truly captures the heart. Their characters are not always on the friendliest of terms, but Bernadette and Felicia nevertheless reveal a great understanding for each other’s challenges as their friendship gradually, but most entertainingly without tact or filter, develops.
Londiwe Dhlomo-Dlamini, Candida Mosoma and Thembeka Mnguni as the divine Divas give new meaning (and literal 10 meter heights) to musical divaliciousness.
Candice van Litsenborgh once again shows that she is one of the most versatile actresses on the SA musical theatre scene, as is revealed through her portrayal of Shirley, the mullet rocking, cynical outback waitress. Then there is Chantal Herman as Cynthia, a mail-order bride with amazing ping-pong ball skills (you definitely need to see that for yourself) and James Borthwick as the loveable Bob who himself is on a journey of self-discovery when he crosses paths with the glamour gals and their colourful bus Priscilla as they trek through the desert to go perform the show of their lives.