Priscilla – Queen of the Desert at Everyman Theatre review: An exuberant celebration

A raucous, entertaining and completely exuberant cacophony of camp, Priscilla – Queen of the Desert awakened Cheltenham audiences from a post-Covid slumber – and delivered a poignant message of acceptance too.

When The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert hit the big screen in 1994 it achieved cult status around the globe and throngs of fans. In 2021, the boundaries the film broke in bringing a LBGTQ storyline to a mass audience seems hard to remember. And while there has, no doubt, been societal leaps in tolerance and acceptance, 30 years later the musical Priscilla – Queen of the Desert continues delivering a tender battle against bigotry and prejudice – with audacious humour, lashings of glitter, elaborate wigs and gold hot pants galore.

First opening in Sydney in 2006, the stage version of Priscilla remains largely loyal to its screen counterpoint’s storyline which – summarised and keeping spoiler-free – sees two drag queens and a transgender woman traversing the Australian outback in a beat-up old bus, in order to put on a showstopping performance in Alice Springs.

Returning to the Everyman Theatre’s stage in August 2021, for another week of almost sell-out shows, the latest UK tour is directed by Jason Donovan, and sees Miles Western play Bernadette with gentle poise; Nick Hayes take on the role of wildly reckless Felicia; and Edwin Ray playing the likeable Mitzi outstandingly – the Aussie accents; singing vocals; and high energy choreography all performed faultlessly.


The talented central UK tour trio are backed on stage with one of the largest supporting casts seen in Cheltenham, with incredible high-kicking and gyrating dancers (the tall guy is especially great!) and a brilliant trio of vocalists harmonizing their way through upbeat anthems including ‘It’s Raining Men’, ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Hot Stuff’.

Dirty jokes, ping pong balls, an outlandish array of incredibly extravagant costumes and some impressive set changes combined in a wild evening of unmissably camp entertainment that not only got the whole crowd whooping with joy, but felt like it collectively woke the Cheltenham audience from a Covid-induced slumber. No wonder the Everyman Theatre brought it back for a second run of shows.

For more information, see Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Everyman Theatre and to book tickets, visit everymantheatre.org.uk.


By Michelle Fyrne

© SoGlos
Tuesday 10 August 2021

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