The Regals Musical Society: Priscilla Queen of the Desert - Review by Daniel Conway
There was a period of time in the late 80's and early 90's that can be argued to be the golden age of Australian cinema. Filled with engaging and subversive stories that captured a version of Australia that crafted the cultural zeitgeist. The crown jewel of this was Priscilla. A gaudy, touching and queer story in a time and place that was not open to queerness. Yet here it is, as an enduring and beloved story that has been exported around the globe in the form of a stage show. Priscilla comes with expectations.
Kathy Petrakis and her team deliver a show that is fun and hits all of the right buttons. When Priscilla became available for amateur rights the question I had was, how is anyone going to do that damn bus? Credit to Regals, the bus looked amazing. The stage crew led by Callum Platt moved that thing really smoothly.
You can tell that this was a production with a lot of moving parts the work of Petrakis, the musical director Charles Wilkinson and Choreographer Chris Bamford is best displayed with the ensemble. When the ensemble join numbers there is an energy that can not be denied. I could literally feel the toe tapping they inspired from the audience as it shook the floor under my seat. While every member of the ensemble was great, Aaron Wilson pulled focus for all the right reasons. He was so in it and just a joy to watch. A featured ensemble member that I enjoyed was Chris Brennan as Miss Understanding whose rendition of What's love got to do with it really set the tone for me. The Divas of Olivia Bailey, Holly Helm and Emma Stewart (who is pulling double duty as Diva swing and Assistant Choreographer) had some great pipes! wither they were supporting the leads of showing off in their own right, they owned the stage, as any good diva should! Veronica Bray Saville who plays the mulleted Shirley is all business about the party she brings to the stage. She is hilarious and the Broken Bay pub scene is a stand out because of her.
The shows leads Brad Clarke, Luke Lynch and Sage Mcateer are fantastic together. All three work well together and have amazing voices. Lynch shines most when he is singing solo and there is a tenderness to his voice that really brings the character alive. Mcateer plays the role of the young, talented and abrasive Adam very well and is a stand out dancer on the stage. Clarke is one of the best things about this production. Every scene Clarke is in benefits from his command of the stage and he elevates the performances around him.
As I said, this is a show with a lot of expectations and while I think that this production meets a lot of them, there are some areas that could be improved upon. The sound mixing and diction of the actors during dialogue, particularly when there is any underscoring could be improved. I would be lying if I didn't admit there were moments where I could not understand what was being said. The other area that I am not sure about is the choice of make up. While I understand that the quick change nature of the costumes mean a full face can't happen, I do feel the lack of lips sometimes made the looks feel incomplete and distracted from how fabulous the costumes were.
When all is said and done this is a fun production and a great night out. 3.5 Coats of pink paint out of 5
Photo Credit: Ilya Shirshov