Zach Theatre is currently running “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” a jukebox musical based off of the film by the same name. The show chronicles the road trip of three drag performers across the Australian Outback on their way to a show across the country. The show is known for it’s over the top costuming and dazzling special effects, but there is more to this story than a good pair of heels! Editor Olin Meadows got to spend a few moments with star of Priscilla, Joshua Denning, who plays Tick AKA Mitzi Mitosis in Zach’s current production.
AEW: How excited were you when you got the call that you would be playing Tick/Mitzi in Priscilla?
I didn’t know much about the musical before auditioning for Tick.I had seen the film ages ago and ddin’t really remember any details. Once I got the audition sides the scene that really spoke to me was the scene between Tick and Benji that goes into Always On My Mind. I just remember thinking what a unique opportunity it would be to play a drag performer grappling with issues of fatherhood. That scene is so touching and the arrangement of the song is stunning. I was sold. I knew then I had to play Tick, so, when I got the call, I was willing to do whatever it took to accept the role and make Priscilla a big part of my life.
AEW: What is your favorite scene/costume in Priscilla?
I have to admit the ZACH costume shop did a stupendous revamping and fitting my Floorshow costume. The Floorshow is a hilarious sequence that fast- forwards through our entire drag show complete with lightening quick costume changes, the finale of which is our reprise of Its Raining Men. The curtain is whisked off to reveal the three of us in our most glamorous classic drag looks. I have this gorgeous wig and these beautiful gold shoes, and the costumers have made the gown so flattering that I really do feel quite beautiful. I have never done drag outside of the stuff I did for RENT at ZACH and with this particular show and that particular costume I finally recognize the allure of the art form for the performer. It’s very glamorous.
AEW: How do you do those lightening quick costume changes?
We have a staff of 10 dressers that are all carefully choreographed backstage to assist us. For most of my changes I am closing that last button, zipper, etc. just as I step onstage- the changes are that fast and that tight! There really is no room for error.
AEW: This show is not just glitz and glam, it has a lot of heart too, what do you want your audiences to go home thinking about?
I have this wonderful line, just after we discover that vandals have defiled Priscilla with graffiti reading “Fuck Off Faggots” that launches us into the song True Colors: “No matter how tough you think you are, no matter how immune you think you’ve become- It Still Hurts.” Each night as I say that line I remind the audience that hate hurts us all. In that moment the actor and the character are one and the same and I get the chance to speak from my heart: stop the hate.
AEW: How do you feel this show speaks to all people gay or straight?
Each of the three leads is struggling with issues of self-love and self acceptance and that is something that each and every human being wrestles with. To quote America’s Queen mum, Ru Paul, “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Can I get an Amen up in here?
AEW: What advice do you have for young actors who want to be where you are one day?
Put your nose down and WORK HARD until you establish a shining track record of reviews and accolades that cannot be denied. Not much else matters.
Priscilla Queen Of The Desert runs through October 30th for more information and tickets log on to http://www.zachtheatre.org