Friday, October 22, 2010


Nick Adams, Will Swenson 
Tony Sheldon
Wow! David Mirvish, et al and MGM on Stage after a long arduous journey, have finally brought the stage adaptation of 1994 Australian Comedy Priscilla Queen of the Desert to Toronto's Princess of Wales Theatre.... and is it ever a spectacle! The story revolves around Tick (Will Swenson), also known as Mitzi in Drag persona, who is struggling to survive in competitive Sydney as a performer. One day he is called by his Wife Marion (Jessica Phillips) who runs a Casino out in Alice Springs, giving him an opportunity to reunite with his estranged son Benjamin (Luke Mannikus) and an opportunity to round-up two of his Drag-performing friends for a much-needed gig at the venue.

Tick manages to convince sassy Bernadette (Tony Sheldon), an older Transgendered Performer and also the vivacious and sharp-witted Adam (Nick Adams), who goes by the alter-ego of Felicia. The trio rent a bus, affectionately named Priscilla, and trek off to Alice Springs. Along the way, the Bus stalls and the antics ensue as personalities clash and we wonder whether or not the three Ladies will ever get to their destination. Above this, how will Tick's young son Benjamin handle the fact that his father is a Drag Queen?

Director Simon Phillips does a fantastic job drawing spirited performances from the extremely-talented cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, with there never being a dull moment. Visually it is spectacular, revolving around a rotating Bus which doubles also as a dazzling backdrop with its LED functionality, effectively communicating transitioning moods from scene to scene. Pieced together by a narrative of celebratory Gay Anthems, the Music never over-powers the storyline, but instead becomes a part of it and this is magical.

Particularly outstanding is Adams (seen in Sex & The City 2) in the supporting role of Felicia, practically stealing every scene he appears in with his imposing physique and bright exuberance. The same can be said of veteran performer Sheldon whose Bernadette endlessly has insults thrown her way but when she does fire with a comeback, it's delivered with conviction... and it hurts. Although Tony-Award winning Swenson is effective in his  starring role, often he gets overshadowed by the brilliance of the supporting actors. Child Actor Mannikus simply is endearing and perfect in his off-pitch singing, making for a poignant tender moment between Father and Son in their Mash-up of Always on my Mind and I Say a Little Prayer.

Audience members at tonight's showing (Thursday, October 21, 2010) were treated to a Double Encore as the Cast filmed a special Finale of the show in support of Dan Savage's It Gets Better campaign.  Sheldon delivered words of inspiration to the audience reminding Gay Teens that with a bit of perseverance, life will get better one day with the support of people who offer unconditional love and support.  This is perfectly fitting and much-needed right now considering the amount of Media attention the topic of Gay Bullying has received.  The Toronto production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is pure, show-stopping fun with enough heart to extend beyond an audience defined by sexual orientation.  Learn more by clicking here.

Check out some more photos of the fun below:

(Photo credit: Mr. Will-W.)

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