Many movies have been transformed into theatre musicals, but few exceed in winning so much attention and affection as Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Opening in Chicago exactly two years after its Broadway debut, Priscilla is breezing into the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University for a two-week stay through March 30th. And it’s one play that will win your heart and soul, so grab your tickets now for the ride of your life.
It is difficult to give the Tony Award-winning musical its true due with a brief description of the plot. Basically, it’s the story of three close friends on a bus trip to the outback of Australia to meet Mitzi’s young son, who his friends never even knew existed. But this is not your typical Greyhound bus trip – mostly because the trio is composed of a transsexual, Mitzi (Wade McCollum), and two ditzy drag queens, Bernadette (Scott Willis) and Felicia (Bryan West).
You really have to see the show in all its amazingly glorious colors of the rainbow – the stars, the talented cast of singers and dancers, the 500 way-out but magnificent costumes, the stunning visuals– to believe it.
Priscilla is the name of the battered old bus they drive from their hometown, stopping in some places where they do indeed stand out from the masculine, beer-guzzling, bullying small-town residents until the threesome win the locals’ respect.
The musical opened on Broadway to critical acclaim with The Hollywood Reporter calling it “funny and fabulous. Joyous entertainment with eye-popping visuals and unexpected heart!” The play won a 2011 Tony Award for Best Costume for Academy Award winners Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner’s designs. It also won three Best Musical award nominations from the Drama Desk, Drama League and Outer Critics Circle Award organizations.
The touring company seems as relaxed and comfortable in their own skin as the appreciative audience does reacting with major applause, laughter and amusement. Add 20 familiar and famous dance songs including “It’s Raining Men,” “I Say a Little Prayer,” “Material Girl,” and “I Will Survive” to the mix of madcap humor and dancing queens. It turns out to be the most fun a theatre audience will probably have this year with a well-loved musical debuting in Chicago for the very first time.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert has talent on and off stage. It was written by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott; directed by Simon Phillips, choreographed by Ross Coleman; musical arrangements and supervision by Stephen “Spud” Murphy; set design by Brian Thomson; costume design by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner; lighting designed by Nick Schlieper; sound design by Jonathan Deans and Peter Fitzgerald and make-up by Cassie Hanlon.
Do yourself and every member of your family age 13-plus a favor and join the cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert for one of its performances.
When: Through March 30
Where: Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress Parkway.
Photo credit: Joan Marcus