REVIEW: PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT (New Wimbledon Theatre) ★★★★★
The iconic musical, Priscilla Queen of the Desert opened at the New Wimbledon Theatre this week bringing sassiness, vibrance and colour. With strong performances and smiles throughout the audience, this show is definitely not a drag.
Although many people will remember the 2009 West End show, this is a brand-new production by Mark Goucher in collaboration with Jason Donovan as Producer. An undoubtable success, this version retains all the joy of the classic musical but brings forward the crucial underlying message of acceptance and being true to who you are.
The show begins with the 1980’s party anthem, ‘It’s Raining Men’ alongside the presence of Miss Understanding (Kevin Yates), who has strong comedic value and presents an infectious positive energy. As the Divas (Rosie Glossop, Aiesha Pease and Claudia Kariuki) make their entrance, we are engaged by their stunning singing abilities, almost radiating off the auditorium’s walls. From the opening number it was also clear to see that Tom Jackson Greaves’ choreography was complex and impressive, and this was consistent throughout the performance.
Joe McFadden as Tick / Mitzi was able to show off his great vocal ability and performed his songs sweetly. He also allowed his natural cheeky charm to shine through the role, which was endearing to see. However, although Tick was very likeable to the audience, I felt he maybe overplayed the naivety slightly – I would have liked to have seen a distinct change in the development of his character as he took on the new chapter of fatherhood.
Miles Western as Bernadette had excellent vocals and executed her comedic lines brilliantly. Whilst always displaying warmth towards the audience, her romance with Bob (Daniel Fletcher) was wonderful to witness. Nonetheless, Nick Hayes as Adam / Felicia asserted himself on stage as a true superstar. Captivating the audience with his talents and Felicia’s clear vulnerability, his emotional performance during ‘Hot Stuff’ demonstrated his character’s journey into maturity and also highlighted the negative impact of intolerance on the individual.
The highly talented ensemble was tight and in tune with each other from beginning to end. A range of fantastic triple-threats, each member helped to add sparkle and star-quality to this production.
I really did enjoy this show, and I do feel that Priscilla is the musical that we all need for today. Whilst ‘colouring your world’ with laughs and jubilance, Priscilla still emphasises the poignant message of the importance of kindness and tolerance within society.
Reviewed by Freya Martyniak
Photo: Nick Hayes
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