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

Singin' in the Rain Review, May 2018 - Newbury Today

To celebrate their 60th year BATS chose the ever popular Singin’ in the Rain, the story of the arrival of the talkies in Hollywood.  It was told with great wit and humour and provided a great framework for BATS to showcase their considerable talents in a production packed with a host of sparkling musical numbers and gorgeous costumes.

Make no mistake – this is a very difficult musical to stage, calling on the old style musical theatre skills and staging challenges.  BATS did not disappoint – and the cast danced and sang their socks off and the title number was performed on a wet set complete with rain and gushing drain pipes - incredible.

As the silent movie idol Don Lockwood, Bryn Hughes was splendid, with his winning smile and cheeky confidence and his sidekick Cosmo Brown was uber-energetically portrayed by newcomer William Keel-Stocker, in an impressive debut to the society.  Also making her BATS debut was the fabulously voiced Anneka Wass (Kathy Selden).  The three worked well together especially in their challenging routines and Kirsty Bennett as Lina Lamont absolutely nailed the character with her nails-on-blackboard voice and brought great humour to the role.

An excellent ensemble backed the principals and there were many truly memorable moments: Beautiful Girl, Good Mornin’, Singin’ in the Rain and Broadway Melody to name a few. The demands of the principal dancing meant some of the routines were not quite as slick as I would have expected – but still excellent and impressive.

The silent movie style projections were fantastic and director Ray Jeffery and musical director Trevor Defferd got the utmost from the cast, and choreographers Julie Morris and Karen McCloy created some sumptuous, sizzling and well rehearsed routines.  Costumes were amazing in their style (and number of changes) and the lighting and special effects (wind, rain, dry ice – you name it!) were terrific.  All in all this provided a great spectacle to delight the audience and good old fashioned entertainment.  

Trevor Dobson

Singin' in the Rain Review, May 2018 - NODA

Congratulations to Director, Ray Jeffery who drew polished performances from the hugely talented cast and first-class choreography from Julie Morris and Karen McCloy. BATS should be proud to add this production of Singin’ In The Rain to their list of successes. This was two and a half hours of all singing and dancing entertainment with the aid of a massively skilled cast and crew.

The Production: Bryn Hughes as Don Lockwood was hardly ever off the stage and sang and danced with great emotion and gusto. The duo's Fit as a Fiddle, Make ‘Em Laugh and Moses Supposes was hugely popular and were hilarious. There were many memorable performances, including the smooth singing of Beautiful Girl by Ian Moseley and Kathy’s (Anneka Wass) You are My Lucky Star was gorgeous and Lina’s What’s Wrong With Me was as out of tune as it should have been! Making his debut with BATS, William Keel-Stocker simply oozed charm and charisma as well as talent as Don’s sidekick Cosmo. This was a musical with heart and chemistry and so much to love; so many favourite moments for me, not least Good Mornin’ and Would You?

L to R: Don (Bryn Hughes), Kathy (Anneka Wass) and Cosmo (Will Keel-Stocker)

L to R: Don (Bryn Hughes), Kathy (Anneka Wass) and Cosmo (Will Keel-Stocker)

Ian Moseley performs "Beautiful Girls"

Ian Moseley performs "Beautiful Girls"

Kirsty Bennett as Lina Lamont, performing 'What's Wrong With me?"

Kirsty Bennett as Lina Lamont, performing 'What's Wrong With me?"

Costumes: The costumes were fantastic; colourful, vibrant and of the highest quality with numerous (and quick!) changes. There was great attention to detail ranging from Lena’s gowns, the massive headdresses of the ensemble, Don and Cosmo’s matching suits for Fit as a Fiddle as well as the black and white theme for the after party scene.

Sound: The music, under the direction of Trevor Defferd proved a great asset to the show and kept the lively music going. The voices blended well with the music. The sound team were kept busy handling effects needed for the arrival of the talkies and Lina’s inability to speak into her microphone! This was well executed.

Technical: The spectacular staging of the title song with fully working rain set deserves enormous praise as does the use of multi-media showing the black and white films ranging from the silent films to the transition to talkies. These provided joyful complement to the live action.

Chris Horton
NODA South East Region, District 14 Representative

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