Priscilla Queen Of The Desert the musical

Book by Stephan Elliot and Allan Scott
Ambassador Theatre Group
Sunderland Empire

Priscilla The Queen Of The Desert breaks the mould by the second national tour being far superior to the first.

Having seen the show in London, I knew there would be changes to the tour but the heart had gone out of the show with the “star” Priscilla reduced to what I can only describe as a metal outline of a bus with hanging video screens.

So I expected the second national tour to involve an even more scaled back set, but no, it looks bigger and better. The Divas fly up and down from the roof, Priscilla is complete and the heart is back in the show.

Disco hits a-plenty, this big, brash, fun show tells the story of three drags queens going from Sydney to Alice Springs in a clapped out old bus called Priscilla. Bernadette, a transgender performer, excellently played Simon Green, holds things together as she unexpectedly finds love along the way, after the famous ping pong balls make Bod (Philip Childs) ditch his wife and board the bus.

Adam Bailey excels as Adam, who works under the name Felicia, with a sharp tongue not caring whom he hurts, while Tick (also known as Mitzi) is wanting to get to Alice Springs to meet his son (from a straight marriage he had many years before). The other drag queens remain totally unaware he has a son until they reach their final destination.

Duncan James as Tick shows his strengths as a stage musical performer and an excellent voice, capturing the vulnerability and determination of his character while having great chemistry with his co-stars including on-stage son Benji. (He shares the role with the West End original star Jason Donovan at different venues on the tour).

From overture to deserved standing ovation, this tour hits the mark. It's big, bright, in-your-face, fun with nothing held back; thankfully on national tour number two Priscilla has found her mojo.

Reviewer: John Dixon