Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Review, November 2018 - Newbury Weekly News

I love this show, it’s the ultimate feel-good musical which sends the audience home happy and uplifted. BATS super production was a slick crowd-pleaser and got a well deserved standing ovation on opening night.

The story is simple yet moving; two Sydney drag artists (Tick and Adam) and a retired Les Girl (transsexual Bernadette)trek across the outback in their battered bus to perform at Alice Springs casino - the ultimate purpose of the trip is for Tick to meet his son.

The terrific ensemble worked their socks off and the well executed dance hall favourites slipped effortlessly (and sometimes humorously) into the action and they just kept on coming. Overseeing the entire action were the three sparkling divas (in every sense of the word!), Anneka Wass, Kirsty Bennett and Jade Hollingshead who excelled both vocally and visually. The three male leads had good chemistry and the banter between them excellent, with classic one-liners from the film popping up in the action. Bryn Hughes (Tick) delivered a great character, the role needing to show both glitzy and sensitive sides. Doug Cairns as Adam pulled the stops out to provide a high camp, high energy performance getting a good deal of the laughs. Bernadette is a tricky role as, although played by a man, it is not drag and needs to be played carefully, but still bring out high comedic elements - no problem for Ian Moseley who absolutely delivered on all fronts. Richard Bond as Bob created a most likeable character and young Edward Walton was delightful as Tick’s son Benji (alternating with Ben Hastings).

Fantastic cameo roles were given by Kathy May-Miller (as the slob Shirley), Luannsa Goodman (the very naughty Cynthia Queen of ping pong balls!), and Ben Shallow (Miss Understanding/Young Bernadette).

The large ‘Priscilla’ bus was impressive and the costumes fantastic and glitzy with some breathtakingly quick changes. Julie Dance and her excellent band kept the show swinging along with tight vocals and director and choreographer Martyn Knight must be delighted with his end result. If I have any criticism at all, whilst the lighting was as always, very creative, faces and bodies were often very dark especially at the front of the stage.

Priscilla is all about promoting and celebrating tolerance and acceptance with one big, lavish kitsch spectacle – and it was all done in fabulous style by BATS.

Trevor Dobson

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Review, November 2018 - NODA

Priscilla Queen of the Desert - the musical is an everlastingly popular show full of vibrant, memorable characters and high energy numbers as well as a couple of very emotional ballads It is an observation on love and life as we follow three Drag Queens as they travel across the Australian desert in ‘Priscilla’, their pimped up tour bus. It’s a rich visual display, fast paced, mostly light hearted but we are aware of the darker subject matter beneath.

The production: Director and choreographer, Martyn Knight demonstrated his experience and talent as he drew great performances from the entire cast with his direction and imaginative and impressive choreography. The show was of high energy, especially in the group numbers. There was plenty of vulgar and bitchy exchanges, cheeky one-liners, comic banter and double-entendres between Bryn Hughes (Tick), Ian Moseley (Bernadette) and Doug Cairns (Felicia) – the drag queens. From the explosive opening of Its Raining Men to the finale the evening was packed with absolute show-stoppers. It was fast paced, vibrant and hugely enjoyable. There was non-stop energy, talent and drive from the entire cast.

Costumes: The endless arrays of costumes were glamorous, eye-popping, dazzling and some defying gravity and I cannot imagine how they were stored! They were of the highest quality.

Lighting and sound: The lighting was excellent and imaginatively used. The sound was excellent with voices clear and blended well with the live music. There were some outstandingly strong vocals, particularly from the Divas: Kirsty Bennett, Jade Hollingshead and Anneka Wass.

Scenery: The sets were amazing and were effectively created and of high quality and cleverly designed. Priscilla, the tour bus was well designed and rotated to reveal the insides. There was minimal disruption during the scene changes which were done efficiently, sometimes behind action in front of the curtain.

Chris Horton
National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) South East Region, District 14 Representative

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Review, Nov 2018 - Basingstoke Gazette

In a time when political views have become more divided than ever, it seems that drag queens are leading the way as culture’s moral compass.

For Basingstoke Amateur Theatrical Society (BATS) to choose Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as its next production couldn’t be more timely.

The story follows Tick (Bryn Hughes), Bernadette (Ian Moseley) and Adam (Doug Cairns) as they travel from Sydney to Alice Springs in the Australian outback, in their trusty bus Priscilla.

BATS have transformed the Haymarket into a place of fabulous colour, exuberant dance, extravagant costumes and hit after hit when it comes to musical choice.

irected by Martyn Knight, the musical is very much of the time, when the original Priscilla Queen of the Desert was released in 1994, but this adds to the over-the-top nature of some of the costume designs, which along with the chorography, are real star performers in the show.

Something that BATS don’t shy away from, which in this reviewer’s opinion is important, is the treatment of queer, trans and people of the LGBTQ community in the 90s.

Whether it be Adam getting into a bar fight for dressing as a woman, to having the words “f**k off f****ts” spray-painted on the side of Priscilla, it is a jarring reminder of how far we have come as a society, but also how much more we can do.

With wonderful renditions of hits such as It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive, Hot Stuff, Boogie Wonderland, Go West, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun peppered out the performance, all three leads had their chance to shine, with Hughes showing a great pair of lungs, Moseley demonstrating lip syncing skills which would make RuPaul proud and Cairns going through so many outfit changes, I lost count.

One thing is for certain the language and subject matter is not for everyone, but the comedy timing – from Cairns in particular – makes up for some of the smut sprinkled throughout the show.

BATS have stuck true to the story that was made famous in the West End and do a great version of it.

Tim Birkbeck

Ian Moseley chats about preparing to play a transgender role in Priscilla

“She’s a wonderful character to play. She’s been through a lot and her hardness on the outside masks her real vulnerability. She’s also got some brilliantly bitchy lines!”

Ian Moseley

Ian Moseley is rehearsing in heels and a skirt for his role as Bernadette in the production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. Bernadette is one of the first transgender characters to appear in a musical and Ian is determined to get his portrayal right.

“Priscilla is one of my favourite shows with its themes of tolerance and acceptance, along with all the fantastic disco songs and spectacular costumes.”

Ian Moseley as Bernadette

In the show, Bernadette joins fellow performers Tick and Adam on a battered old bus (nicknamed Priscilla) across the Australian outback to perform a show in Alice Springs. Ian says the dynamic between the three is crucial.

“You’ve got the young guy, Adam, whose cockiness and ease with himself hangs off the coattails of the fight for acceptance Bernadette has gone through. It annoys her and their sparring is very funny. She’s much closer to Tick, who’s struggling with telling his son he’s gay.”

Ian and fellow actors Bryn Hughes (Tick) and Doug Cairns (Adam) recently appeared in Festival Place and the Malls in full drag make-up and fabulously over-the-top outfits to promote the show.

“We certainly turned heads! Lots of people wanted a photo with us.”

Ian hopes everyone will open their mind to enjoy this hilarious, heartwarming show when it comes to the Haymarket from Wed 14 – Sat 17 and Wed 21 – Sat 24 November. Performances at 7.30pm with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm on 17 and 24 Nov.

All tickets for the opening night are £18.50. For the other performances: £23.50 (adults) £15 (16s and under) - with concessions for students, over-65s and groups. All prices include a booking fee. Buy tickets online.

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