"Priscilla Queen of the Desert" is fun, glitzy, glamorous, and GAY. This must be the gayest show that has ever happened on Broadway and I loved every minute of it! Tonight was my second trip to The Palace theatre to catch this show, and we got our tickets by winning the 6pm ticket lottery. It's based on the movie of the same name which tracks the journey of two drag queens and one transsexual across the Australian outback in an old school bus they christen "Priscilla". In keeping with the breezy and upbeat feel of the movie, adapted by the film's original writer/director Stephan Elliot, the stage version is an entertainment extravaganza packed with great songs and some of the most wonderfully ostentatious costumes you will ever see. The show opens with a giant disco ball descending above the audience and three disco divas flying in from above singing "It's Raining Men". Can you think of a better way for "Priscilla" to start? I certainly can't!
In what is probably the best entrance of the season the delicious Nick Adams as Felicia flies in from above on a giant dollar sign, dressed in a pink satin gown and a blond wig, singing "Material Girl". He quickly strips off the wig and dress to reveal a corset, stockings, and heels, giving what we might call "androgynous realness". In Act 2 he has an equally fun time with "Girls Just Want To Have Fun".
I mentioned in my posting about the 2011 Tony Award nominations that Nick has a fabulous moment near the end of Act 1 lip-synching to "Sempre Libera" from La Traviata from the inside of a giant high heeled pump that extends out into and above the audience. The image is straight out of the movie, but seeing it happen takes it to a dazzling, whole other level. It definitely merits another photo!
One thing I really love about writing my own theatre blog is that I don't have to be impartial. It's about me expressing my views on what I see. So please forgive me if I'm getting a little "Bessy Obssessy" on Nick Adams, but the guy really impressed me in this part. I've seen Nick in several other shows, and he was always good, but no other part showcased his talents like this. He gives so much energy and joy when he's onstage I couldn't take my eyes off of him. Perhaps that also had something to do with sitting in the front row and that he is in various stages of undress much of the time! The boy is working a drool-producing, perfect physique which makes his excellent dancing that much more of a surprise since usually very muscular guys aren't that limber. And when he quickly drops down into the splits and then BOUNCES up and down it's a sexy, humorous, awe-inspiring moment. You can see a glimpse of him doing that in the video clip I posted below. Nick also gives back to the community by actively participating in Broadway Bares and other charitable events, and I just heard that he raised $25,000 on Sunday, May 15 doing the AIDS Walk in NYC. Below is a photo of him in Broadway Bares a few years ago...
Did I mention he's easy on the eyes. ;-) I will end my obsessive rave about Nick by saying again that he deserved a nomination for a Tony, probably would have won it, and he emerges from "Priscilla" a bona fide, triple-threat Broadway star. Both times I saw this show the audience gave their standing ovation at his curtain call. I hope that nightly experience goes a long way toward giving him the sense of recognition he absolutely deserves.
UPDATE: Congratulations to Nick for winning "Favorite Breakthrough Performance" and "Favorite Diva" at the Broadway.com Audience Choice Awards!
The reason he doesn't quite steal the entire evening is the formidable Tony Sheldon as the older transsexual Bernadette. He is so convincing in his role that a friend of mine who saw the show last week at first thought he was a real woman! After years in the part, originating it in Sydney, then moving to London, then to Canada for the pre-Broadway run he completely owns the role. In the movie, as played by Terrence Stamp, Bernadette is more of an embittered dowager deigning to dispense only as much energy as needed, whereas Sheldon sees Bernadette as more earthy, someone who is happy being a bit frumpy whilst still retaining the necessary comic bite.
The reasons to go see "Priscilla" are many. Sheldon and Adams create strong characters and have talent to spare. The score which includes "Hot Stuff", "MacArthur Park", and "I Will Survive" is a very satisfying selection of popular music that is immediately recognizable and lots of fun.
Completely over-the-top costumes are at the heart of the show and they will "wow" you from beginning to end.
And then there is "Priscilla" herself - a little piece of technological magic that I thought would upstage the actors but literally becomes another character in the show, which is befitting since it's named after her.
"Priscilla" gets an A+ from me and if you go see it I guarantee you will leave the theatre feeling extremely fabulous.
You can catch a sneak peak video of "Priscilla" here:
PS - A note on how we got our seats:
Starting at 5:30pm you can fill out a card with your name and it is put in a bag. At 6pm if your name is picked you can buy up to two seats in the front row for $40 each. They do this for every performance including matinees, always 2 1/2 hours before curtain. Be advised that you need to have cash and photo ID to purchase the tickets. Check out the link to "Broadway for Broke People" in the right margin of this blog for info on lotteries and rush ticket policies for every Broadway show.