What a drag! A Review of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Ah, Australia… Where men are men and sheep are, um, nervous. Anyone who recalls the eponymous Australian cult movie of a decade or so ago (starring the inimitable Terence Stamp) will be eager to catch this stage version of what’s probably the ultimate camp carnival in Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

Only the Australians could have given the world the wonderful spectacle of a pink bus – filled with drag queens in way-over-the-top, sequinned drag, massive neon-coloured wigs and 12cm heels ­– wending its way through possibly the most homophobic, arch-conservative terrain in the world: the farmlands of the Outback.

This stage version is entirely faithful to the movie and hasn’t dated a whit. While the acting isn’t impressive, there’s very little of it: the focus is the music and the spectacle and the fun. And in all these spheres, it succeeds superbly.

The number of costume changes, the logistics of backstage operations and the rapid pace of the production make it a daunting challenge. Add a live orchestra, perilous pulleys on which to hoist three angelic divas and any number of special effects, and one appreciates what’s gone into this spectacle.

But it’s all been more than worth it: you’ll be clapping, laughing and singing along to hits such as Don’t Leave Me This Way, I Will Survive, I Love the Nightlife, It’s Raining Men and other great dance anthems, and loving every ribald, outrageous minute of it.

Both the movie and the stage show were intended to get a glorious rise out of Australia’s most neurotic insecurities (and those of the rest of the world), flaunting and celebrating the LGBTI community as only drag queens can. And nobody does it better.

Get there!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert runs until 18 June 2017. Bookings at Computicket.

DID YOU KNOW?

  • There are 471 costumes, 45 wigs, 120 pairs of shoes and 200 hats and headdresses worn in the show.
  • There are more than 220 costume changes in each performance.
  • There are 48 make-up masks featuring six designs worn by the cast.
  • 40 lipsticks, in different shades (Red, Girl About Town, Spirit and Morange), are used each month.
  • 1,5 pounds (6,8kg) of make-up glitter is used each month.
  • 200 wet wipes are used each night to remove make-up.
  • Nine rolls of packing tape are used a week to remove glitter from the lips (the cast “kiss” the tape in a long strip to remove the glitter quickly).
  • There are 40 wig changes in the show. The fastest wig/make-up change is 15 seconds.
  • The divas are flown more than 10m up into the wings before descending to the stage.

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