Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical

This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows

Previewed 10 March 2009, Opened 23 March 2009, Closed 31 December 2011 at the Palace Theatre in London

The new musical based on the Oscar award-winning film, Priscilla tells the story of Tick, Bernadette and Adam, a glamorous Sydney-based performing trio that agree to take their show to the middle of the Australian outback.

Priscilla Queen Of the Desert The Musical is a heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus (nicknamed Priscilla) searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed. With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and featuring a score of dance-floor classics, this new musical is a sensational journey to the heart of fabulous.

The original cast featured Jason Donovan as 'Tick (Mitzi)', Tony Sheldon as 'Bernadette', Oliver Thornton as 'Adam (Felicia)', and Clive Carter as 'Bob' with Zoe Birkett, Kate Gillespie and Emma Lindars as the 'Divas', along with Wezley Sebastian as 'Miss Understanding', Amy Field as 'Marion', Steven Cleverley as 'Farrah' / 'Young Bernadette', Daniele Coombe as 'Shirley', Tristan Temple as 'Jimmy', Kanako Nakano as 'Cynthia', John Brannoch as 'Frank', Phillip Arran, Matthew Cole, Amy Edwards, Lewis Griffiths, Bob Harms, Mark Inscoe, Zabrina Norry, Will Peaco, John Phoenix, James Rees, Craig Ryder, Jeremy Secomb and Jon Tsouras. Darius Caple, Gene Goodman, Christopher Miltiadou, Cameron Sayers, and Red Walker shared the role of 'Benjamin'.

Directed by Simon Phillips with choreography by Ross Coleman, sets by Brian Thomson, costumes by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, lighting by Nick Schlieper, and sound by Michael Waters. Musical by Stephen Elliott and Allan Scott, with songs selected and interpolated by Simon Phillips, based on the Latent Image / Specific Films Motion Picture distributed by MGM.

"The plot involves three 'gender illusionists', or drag queens, driving from Sydney to Alice Springs to do a show, in a big pink bus they call Priscilla. The musical loses a lot in translation: the original movie's low-budget charm, poignancy and humanity. On the other hand, with the camp-o-meter turned up to 10, if not 11, it's a wildly colourful and exuberant piece, though about as subtle as a slap across the face with a 16oz kangaroo steak... The purely dramatic interludes are lame and lumbering, but the big song'n'dance numbers are a treat: Go West, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff and other anthems. The costumes, by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, complemented by Ross Coleman's clever choreography, have a deranged near-genius." The Sunday Times

"Priscilla Queen Of The Desert first hit the road as a film in which three drag queens travel from Sydney to a gig in Alice Springs in a silver bus named Priscilla. It is, of course, a journey of self-discovery, during which the trio encounters animosity and, finally, acceptance. Bernadette, the ageing transsexual, finds true love; Tick is accepted by his young son as a dad who shares a room with his boyfriend; Felicia, the bitchy 'gender illusionist', learns to keep his bitter 'von Trapp' shut. Restyled as a stage musical, its flimsy plot reinforced with, admittedly, deliciously naff disco numbers, it delighted audiences Down Under. The queens are now parked at the Palace Theatre, London. As a rule, the higher the feathered headdresses, the higher the camp, the higher my spirits. So why, when all (admittedly mostly gay and/or Antipodean) around me were whooping, did I find this show so lowering? Quite simply because between the songs, of which you don't get enough, it's a witless, joyless, misogynistic stream of smutty dialogue and innuendo. It makes Mamma Mia! sound like Shakespeare... There's more to acting than dressing up, a matter director Simon Phillips has evidently overlooked. Worse, the only 'real' women are a bossy wife, a revolting slob and a mail-order bride. Not surprisingly, I couldn't wait to see the back of this bus." The Mail on Sunday

"I liked the original 1994 Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert film starring Terence Stamp, about a group of drag artists making an epic bus journey through the Australian Outback so that one of their number could be reunited with his son... One thing that the show cannot get across is the idea of a desert, which is a shame, as the film's success depended on the contrast between the flamboyant protagonists and the spectacular backdrop... Along the way I came to have some regard for Tony Sheldon as the ageing Bernadette and Oliver Thornton as a young drag artist with attitude, but, at two and a quarter hours, their journey seems a wearyingly long one. There are some great numbers but they are just bolted on to the work, rather than written for it in the way the big showstoppers were for the comparable but eminently more enjoyable La Cage Aux Folles." The Sunday Telegraph

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical is written by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott and is directed by Simon Phillips. Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical made its world premiere in Sydney in October 2006 and has subsequently wowed audiences and critics alike in Melbourne and New Zealand to become the most successful Australian stage musical of all time. A Sydney return season due to popular demand will commence in October 2008 and there are plans for a North American production to open in Toronto and another in Germany in Autumn 2009. A Swedish production will open in 2010.

Priscilla in London previewed from 10 March 2009, opened on 23 March 2009 and closed on 31 December 2011 (the production had two 'cast holidays' when there where no performances from 6 to 19 September 2010 and from 5 to 17 September 2011).