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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert features amazing performers and musical numbers, all within an incredibly technical and awesome production. As soon as the lights go down and the Divas (Emily Afton, Bre Jackson, and Brit West) descend from above, the fun begins with a great rendition of It’s Raining Men, setting the tone for the rest of the night.
The story follows Tick (Wade McCollum) as he journeys from Sydney, Australia to Alice Springs in order to meet his son (from before his coming out) and play at his wife’s casino. In order to form an act, he recruits a friend, transsexual Bernadette (Scott Willis), formerly of the group Les Girls, and an up-and coming drag queen with a love for Madonna, Felicia (Bryan West). They buy a bus to make the journey through the Outback, dub it Priscilla, and start their journey.
Along the way, they encounter the best and worst of humanity, reaching out to communities that are not normally exposed to drag queens with surprising results. The unforeseen occurs during their journey, from unexpected acceptance to surprising hatred. But each issue is handled well and do not let the audience linger on the pain. The focus is on finding the best of each situation and, of course, entertaining away the pain.
While there are no original songs, the use of well-known number such as I Say a Little Prayer, I Will Survive, and Hot Stuff are performed incredibly by the main characters. In true drag queen fashion, lip syncing is done in some of the performances, with the Divas providing an incredible soundtrack for the drag queens to use. Really, the Divas pull it all together, especially in the few cases where a woman’s range is needed to sell a song. However, the drag queens sing incredibly well and sell the songs they perform every time. It’s a perfect team-up!
Some memorable performances from the ensemble include those given by Travis Taber, performing as Young Bernadette in a few scenes, and Nik Alexzander as Miss Understanding. Travis shows Bernadette performing in her prime as well as is possible and impresses upon the audience how much class she had during her hay day. Nik plays a fun and incredibly over-the-top drag queen and invites the audience to the show during his opening scene.
The show is staged beautifully, with plenty of technical performances. Priscilla herself steals the show quite a few times as she gets painted to cover up hateful words, and rotates across the stage to show the interior and exterior as needed.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts continues to include some pre-show activities in the lobby, including a photo op with Priscilla herself, a chance to discover your own drag name (mine was Krypto Crockett), and a Screen & Stage exhibit highlighting several facts about the movie and the stage production itself.
To be clear, however, this is a show meant for open-minded audiences as it does deal with subjects that some people may not be comfortable with. Come to the show with an open mind and enjoy yourself! This is an incredibly fun show with an awesome cast and ensemble!
Priscilla Queen of the Desert is currently at Segerstrom Center for the Arts until October 27, so get your tickets now at the Center’s Box Office or by calling (714) 556-2787. Please note that this show is recommended for ages 13+ due to explicit language and mature situations.
Tickets for this performance were provided at no charge by Segerstrom Center for the Arts for review purposes on Socalthrills.com. All reviews are the opinion of the writer / critic.