Review: Priscilla Queen of the Desert @ Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

By October 21, 2015



Based on the cult classic film of 1994, this production sticks to the road movie narrative but moves more into the territory of a musical jukebox than its cinematic version. We are thrilled to have Jason Donovan with us in Bradford, even if he does sometimes find hitting the harmonies demanding. This just shows his fallibility as he pulls off a role that breaks down any fear of the difference and diversity on display with quiet charm.

His performance as Tick is really the raison d’être of the piece, though his two traveling companions don’t quite know the real reason for the trip from Sydney to Alice Springs. They just want to smash a new venue to prove their worth. Adam Bailey as Adam/Felicia plays a bitchy, sassy full-on drag queen who doesn’t have the common sense he was born with. While Simon Green as Bernadette gives the transvestite role all he can possibly fit into such a show: comic, tragic, camp, sensational!

Photo credit: Paul Coltas

Photo credit: Paul Coltas

As they set off into the outback they are met with a total culture shock with only their unlikely knight in shining armour (lonely mechanic Bob, Phillip Childs) that keeps them from being lynched by bigots who take offence to their playful acts. It is a journey of self-discovery that lets the audience see their intimate moments and throughout there is camp fun, but this is cheeky not dirty.

The costume changes are extravagant and excessive, but wasn’t it Wilde who said: “Nothing succeeds like excess!” They are all complex characters and even after they have fulfilled their mad journey there is no seal on the end, it is left open to see what the future holds for them: one thing is for sure, they will never be the same again.

The music is simply adorable with such camp classics as ‘Go West’, ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, and ‘Boogie Wonderland’. This fits in with the stage action perfectly and adds a real pride and powerful zest to the mix of glitter, glamour and garish colourful explosions. A great counterblast to homophobia and those who may play lip service to diversity but aren’t actually aware of the implications of the constant struggle for those who choose to be different. An extravagant show that is confident of its success as a spectacle with three leads providing literally hundreds of gags and the ensemble adding to the depth and breadth of the performance.

Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert: The Musical is currently touring the UK. For more information visit