It's a bad sign when I'm watching a musical and wonder why a song is playing. And why none of the three leads is in the act 2 opening number.
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is juke box musical utilizing songs from the 1970s and 1980s. The show tells the story of 2 drag queens and a transsexual traveling from Sydney Australia to Alice Springs and their adventures on the title character Priscilla, their bus. Will Swenson plays Tick (aka Mitzi) who leads the merry band across the country in order to help out the wife the others do not know he has. Will plays the conflicted Tick quite well, however, he was not in the best voice today. Nick Adams plays Adam/Felicia, the youngest and most reckless of the trio. I found his character abrasive and unsympathetic, but boy, can he move. Tony Sheldon plays Bernadette and of the three, is the most believable. He moves like a woman, sounds like a woman and sings wonderfully.
The costumes are over the top, but work well for the drag queen mentality of the show. The scenery varies from gorgeous to minimalistic. The opening number features a wonderful light model of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and later on there is another light sculpture of the Eiffel Tower, but for much of the show, the set merely consists of the bus against a plain background, with a white crystal ball moon.
This plain background works well against the gorgeousness that is Priscilla. The bus has been outfitted with LED lights and she goes from pink to green to rainbow and even shows a bubble bath.
The ensemble of the show is excellent, especially C. David Johnson as Bob, the mechanic who helps rescue Priscilla. Jacqueline Arnold, Anastacia McCleskey and Ashley Spencer, as the high flying Divas, who do a wonderful job with the songs they are given, but honestly, I found them a bit distracting. Why not just have the leads sing the songs? Why are some songs sung by the leads, others by the ensemble and some by the Divas?
I think it's another bad sign if I'm analyzing this show this much. The worst part of the day was that I kept hearing some kind of hum during the dialogue scenes.
Oh, you're curious about that Act 2 opening song? It was "Thank G-d I'm a Country Boy." Performed by the ensemble. No leads in sight. And even more annoying, the cast goes out and pulls people from the audience up to the stage to perform with them. Why? I still don't know.
Of the new shows this season, this would be my second recommendation. I'd still recommend Anything Goes before this.
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