Priscilla is Perfect at the R&D!
Written by Paul Giffney on August 3, 2021
Monday [3rd August] saw loads of Northampton residents, and those from further afield, flock to the fantastic show Priscilla: Queen of the Desert, currently playing at The Royal and Derngate until 7th August.
One of those residents was NLive Radio’s own Paul Giffney who, loving a show or three, dragged his less-than-willing husband to the award-winning musical. Yet together they both left happier and, like all of the audience, feeling uplifted, celebrating life and feeling true to themselves.
The iconic hit musical Priscilla has more glitter than ever before, featuring a dazzling array of stunning costumes, fabulous feathers and a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics including It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, I Love The Nightlife, Finally and many more.
Based on the Oscar-winning film, Priscilla is the hilarious adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus bound for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime. Their epic journey is a heart-warming story of self-discovery, sassiness and acceptance.
Miles Western took on the role of Bernadette with sensitive passion and respectability, with Nick Hayes as Adam/Felicia and Edwin Ray playing Tick/Mitzi. Both of these characters vied for attention on the stage as well, with the three of them balancing their harmonies and their dance moves equally. Hayes and Western’s voice dominated the main songs well, with Ray’s solo songs working best for his vocal range. All three moved the crowd continually with their performance, characterisation and Western’s femininity was seen best in the maternal role of ‘Nana’ to the excellently broken-up Hayes’ Adam.
They are joined by Daniel Fletcher (Bob), Rebecca Lisewski (Marion), Kevin Yates (Miss Understanding), Gracie Lai (Cynthia) and Ronan Burns (Frank). This main cast of the show supported the narrative which was expertly narrated through musical number after number that was held in place by the Divas (played by Claudia Kariuki, Rosie Glossop and Aiesha Pease) all with their wide range of vocals and on-stage presence. The Divas did more than just provide backing songs though – they presented a feast of moves themselves, becoming fates or Chorus in the theatrical sense, guiding the main actors on their way.
The cast is completed by Emma Katie Adcock, Jak Allen Anderson, Allie Daniel, Martin Harding, Clarice Julianda, Jemima Loddy, Nathan Ryles, Tom Scanlon and Jermaine Woods. All were slick, well-paced and demonstrably rounded characters, whether it was through song, dance or simple background acting (special note to the burger flipper half way through who tested the food with his foot – simple moments like this presenting a rich tapestry for the main plot to be set against!)
This is the part of a review now where a reviewer usually criticises or presents some type of comment for improvement. Yet to do so is to take away from what can only be described as a stellar performance by all. You know the story has an audience gripped when you’re all belly-laughing one moment then, literally, silent the next as (as also in the film) the three main characters experience bigotry and hatred after a performance in a ‘red-neck’ town. The gut-punches that this musical throws is only soothed by the great acting of the youngest member of the cast who, playing Tick’s son, shows how the future generations are accepting of so much more than their predecessors.
Some have criticised the fact that this production is a watered-down version of the film’s plot but to them I would counter the fact that this Tony-winning musical does more than the film: it enriches and brings together a whole audience, raising them to standing ovations at the end.
The Royal and Derngate, as always, hosted very well and, with this show running until Saturday 7th August, you would be a fool not to grab a ticket. Drag the other half along as well and they are guaranteed to have a great time!
This brand new production comes from the team behind the critically acclaimed UK tours of Hairspray; with direction by Ian Talbot, choreography by Tom Jackson-Greaves designs by Charles Cusick Smith and Phil R Daniels, lighting design by Ben Cracknell and sound design by Ben Harrison.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert The Musical has been developed for the stage by Simon Phillips with musical arrangements by Stephen “Spud” Murphy and orchestrations by Stephen “Spud” Murphy and Charlie Hull. The original motion picture was written by Stephan Elliott, produced by Al Clark and Michael Hamlyn, executive producer Rebel Penfold-Russell and was financed with the assistance of the Film Finance Corporation Australia Limited and the New South Wales Film and Television Office.