Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is more than a visual feast, even though the production boasts more than 500 extravagant costumes that glitter and sparkle with more feathers and sequins ever in the same room at the same time. It is also more than the spectacle of divas suspended over the cavernous Bass Hall stage belting out rocking songs from the likes of Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and Donna Summer. And yes, it is more than the lifesized, LED-lit bus, named Priscilla, that moves and rotates across the stage as it transports its passengers through the Australian Outback.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is all of these but at its heart is a tale of friendship, tolerance, and love.
Two drag queens and a transgender entertainer leave Sydney on their way to Alice, a small town in the Australian Outback. Tick, an aging drag queen who lives in Sydney, is going “home.” But home has secrets that even his transgender friend Bernadette doesn’t know. Tick has an eight-year-old son whom he has not seen in years. On the journey, Tick, Bernadette, and Adam encounter a variety of people. Some good. Some not. Some accepting, generous, and helpful. Some destructive, intolerant, and hurtful. But it is the journey, both physical and emotional, that is so engaging.
Scott Willis stands out for his nuanced portrayal of Bernadette. Wade McCollum captures just the right note of a man torn between his two identities, and Bryan West fascinates us with his youthful disregard for boundaries, traditions, and danger.
The production values are just spectacular. Often it is difficult for a company to put on a show after being in the same location and rehearsing for weeks. That this is a national tour production speaks to the professionalism and caliber of talent in all areas: acting, dancing, singing and choreography to be sure, but also lighting, sound, direction, staging, costuming, effects and on and on.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, runs through Sunday, May 12, 2013, at Bass Concert Hall. Performances are Thursday – Saturday 8:00 pm, Sunday 7:00 pm, and matinee performances Saturday at 2:00 pm and Sunday at 1:00 pm. For tickets, go to http://www.texasperformingarts.com