Highly Recommended **** “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” is an over-the-top, sparklingly disco, fabulous time! Unless you’re a Grinch, you go home laughing and happy. The Pride Arts Center stage is small, so I wondered how everybody – and the bus – would fit. I’m happy to say it all works. I loved “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” and I think you will too! 4 Spotlights.
The whole premise, the adventures of three drag queens driving across the Australian Outback, is insane, but don’t let that get in the way. No one else does. Actually, I think I must have been one of two people in the audience “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” who has never seen the movie. Everyone else was whooping it up from the first note.
“Priscilla” opens in a glittery club in downtown Sydney as three divas (Jill Sesso, Tuesdai B. Perry, Rebecca Coleman) high on a balcony sing, “It’s Raining Men”. Miss Understanding (Aaron C. Reynolds) follows up with “What’s Love Got to Do With It”.
As he’s getting ready to go on stage, Tick/Mitzi (Jordan Phelps) gets a phone call. It’s his wife, Marion (Britt-Marie Sivertsen), ‘dirty little secret’. She wants Tick to come back to Alice Springs and spend some time with their eight-year-old son, Benji (Asher Ramaly). When Tick admits he can’t afford the airfare, she offers him a gig in the casino she manages.
Tick persuades his friend Adam/Felicia (Luke Mierdiercks), to go along. He goes to see another friend, the transsexual, Bernadette (Honey West), only to learn her husband has just died. After the funeral, he persuades her to go along, too. Felicia and Bernadette take an immediate dislike to each other, resulting in lots of snarky cracks.
They buy an old bus – on the Pride stage a small conveyance slightly larger than a golf cart on wheels. One side is open to show the interior – kind of a tiki shack with a steering wheel, while the other side has corrugated siding.
On the trip, everything that could go wrong, does, as they travel through places like the Road to Nowhere, the Middle of Nowhere and the Back of Beyond. After someone paints homophobic slurs on the outside, they paint the bus pink! When the bus breaks down, they meet a mechanic named Bob (John Cardone), who fixes the problem and goes along for the ride.
The toe-tapping score includes Madonna hits like “Material Girl” and “Like a Virgin” as well as disco favorites like “I Love the Nightlife,” “I Will Survive” “Shake Your Groove Thing” and “Boogie Wonderland”. There’s even a John Denver hit, “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” and Cyndi Lauper’s hit, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun”.
Every song becomes a major production number, with the divas appearing – even in the desert – for most. And then there are the costumes! OMG, the costumes! They sparkle, they glitter, they’re totally outrageous.
The energetic ensemble – Averis L. Anderson, Parker Guidry, Matthew Huston, Roy Samra, Erin Baumrucker, Maiko Terazawa as well as Sivertsen and Cardone – dance in the club, play cowboys and girls, and thugs in the Outback with equal enthusiasm.
“Priscilla. Queen of the Desert” has been extended through March 12th at the Pride Arts Center, 4139 N. Broadway, Chicago.
Running time is 2 hours, 20 minutes, with an intermission.
Thursday through Saturday at 7:30 pm
Sunday at 3:00 pm.
Additional performances on Wednesdays, February 1 and 8 at 7:30 pm.
Tickets are $40 for reserved seats, $30 for general admission.
Street parking is hard to find in this neighborhood. There are a couple of metered lots nearby. FYI www.pridefilmsandplays.com.
To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-Up and click at “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert”
I missed the opening myself, but since they extended the show, we are going to catch it next week- when the buzz is this high, one finds a way to alter the schedule to catch an entertainment that is definitely “feel good”!