Review: Desert Songs

Terry Wills reviews the Alex’s recent production of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert.


Priscilla - Queen of the Desert

Down the years I’ve been privileged to have seen dozens of conventional musicals and a few that are so different they literally defy description. Topping this list has to be Priscilla – Queen of the Desert.

It arrived at The New Alexandra Theatre with one of the most popular singer entertainers (Jason Donovan) taking the leading role accompanied by the talented Richard Grieve, Graham Weaver and Giles Witling.

The story tells of three Australian drag artists, none of them being particularly happy with the course their lives appear to be taking. They accept a gig in far off Alice Springs and set off for what turns out to be a very stimulating and hilarious journey in a bus they name ‘Priscilla’.

On the way they encounter friendly, and not so friendly locals, while at the same time rehearsing a series of dances to a medley of easy to recognise songs. It’s Raining Men, I Say a Little Prayer, Colour My World, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Go West, Boogie Wonderland and others, they all having the virtually full house audience clapping and singing along in unison.

Surprisingly, for me at least, there was A Fine Romance – written way back in the 1930’s by Jerome Kern.  So different from any other number in the show but in view of the many varied relationships we see unfold it could be very appropriate.

As for the dialogue (if you could hear it clearly above the non-stop laughter) let’s just say it’s often crude, outrageous, and very funny. But Jason Donovan – indeed all the cast  –  takes second place behind the crazy sets and unbelievable costumes. Goodness knows how the Alex managed to find space large enough to accommodate them all.

To sum up – try imagining an opening scene where three over the top dressed divas are suspended in mid-air. A mirror wall flashes around the house while the audience are sprayed with confetti. That sets the scene for a great night’s entertainment that left a delighted audience cheering, and calling for more.

The show ends on 30th March at the New Alexander Theatre.

Seats still available for the show – click here for details.

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