Overheard: “I’m going to the Opera House tonight.”
“What are you going to see?”
“Priscilla King of the Jungle”
Dearest lady, you couldn’t be more wrong! This is a rude sometimes crude, innuendo packed show with a lot of great songs and no jungle to be seen.
This is the story of three friends, two are drag queens and one, Bernadette (Richard Grieve) is the spitting image of Glenn Close and she’s a transvestite. Her man has just died; at only 25 years of age he was asphyxiated by peroxide fumes as he was dying his hair. But why are they chasing across Australia on a bus called Priscilla? To see Tick’s (Noel Sullivan) six year old son who knows he’s in ‘showbiz’ but doesn’t know the dodgy details!
The musical charts their colourful journey and within five minutes of taking off we have a striptease, burley men in overcoats with very little on beneath. The audience love it! First we’re in the Cockatoo Club, then we move along to Broken Hill Pub where the boys perform their burlesque and win over the locals. “Why do we do it?” asks Adam (Graham Weaver). “To feel like real women,” was the reply. And I must say the men in this company are beautiful. So slim and lithe and move like a dream. Memo to me: renew diet effort.
So they continue west where the skies are blue. Act One isn’t totally gripping but after the interval things take off and we’re at a hoedown where the cowhands lustily sing ‘Thank God I’m a Country Boy’ – then our friends arrive in drag! Not such a good idea and it all ends in tears and a fight and a new determination by the friends to stick together and get to their destination.
The story is linked by three flying diva angels who drop down from the sky on wires and sing their hearts out and there are some fine cameo performances especially from Giles Watling as Bob the motor mechanic and his mail order wife Cynthia (Frances Mayli McCann) who brought the house down, hilarious and boy can she strut her stuff, albeit in a rather risque ping pong sort of way. There is a touching scene when Tick eventually meets his wife who introduces him to his son.
If you love songs like ‘Raining Men’, ‘I will Survive’, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, then Priscilla Queen of the Desert is for you, Hit after hit just flow from the stage into the auditorium, it’s a sing-along night with more than a touch of naughtiness. The band rocks and by the end of the evening the audience was on its collective feet giving the cast and company a well deserved ovation.
I hope that lady expecting a wild life show wasn’t disappointed or shocked! I bet she stayed to the end of what a lot of people consider a really wild life show!
More at www.goh.co.uk
REVIEW – ANNE HAILES