‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,’ a delightful survivor’s tale in disco drag

2013-08-27T23:00:00Z 2013-08-28T11:33:06Z ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,’ a delightful survivor’s tale in disco dragL. PIERCE CARSON Napa Valley Register
August 27, 2013 11:00 pm  • 

‘The award-winning 1994 Stephan Elliott comedy, “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert,” was a delightful, light-hearted romp across the Australian outback for a trio of performers — a pair of drag queens and a transsexual — that had fun with stereotypes and clichés and wound up providing viewers with nearly two hours of laughs and unfettered entertainment.

A couple of years ago, Elliott teamed up with friend Allan Scott to adapt the film for a rousing stage production. That they did in spades, turning it into a dazzling, laugh-a-minute, lavish disco spectacle.

After entertaining audiences in New York for months and months, the company packed up its pink RV, trunks of eye-popping costumes, gargantuan sets and scads of showgirls, heading straight to the West Coast for a bus-and-truck tour that deserves to be on the road for a long time.

“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” is one big hoot, a stage musical combining all the disco hits of the late ’70s and ’80s  choreographed to a fare-thee-well by Ross Coleman, acted, sung and danced by a glorious cast of professionals who know a thing or two about drag.

The story line is simple. Two drag queens (Tick, played by Wade McCollum, and Adam, in the person of Bryan West) and a transsexual (Bernadette, portrayed by Scott Willis) team up to perform a drag show at a resort in Alice Springs, a town in the remote outback. They head west from Sydney aboard their gaudy RV, Priscilla, and en route, it’s revealed that Tick and the resort owner have a son. When their RV breaks down, a repairman named Bob (Joe Hart) takes a shine to Bernadette and joins in this unforgettable road trip. Heart strings are tugged and one-liners are a dime a dozen.

This is a tale of survival in the real world, focusing on a trio of good souls who are anything but mainstream. While the show allows the audience the opportunity to see what makes the central characters tick, it also pokes fun at their lifestyle without making judgment calls.

It also has a boatload of disco music that fires up a fleetfooted cast, all of whom take to shakin’ the groove thing at the drop of a hat. The costumes alone are worth the price of admission.

Between laughs, you are treated to “I Love the Nightlife,” “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” “Go West,” “I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff,” “MacArthur Park,” Boogie Wonderland” and lots more.

A film classic around the world, “Priscilla” is a natural for stage adaptation. It opened in 2006 in Sydney before traveling to New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and finally Broadway.

The touring production isn’t putting down roots — it’s at San Francisco’s Orpheum Theater for only a dozen performances that run through Aug. 31.

Copyright 2015 Napa Valley Register. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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