Review: Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Blackpool Winter Gardens

Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Photo by Darren Bell
Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Photo by Darren Bell

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun - and yet this was all about the men!

Priscilla Queen of the Desert opened at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and was packed with glitter, bright costumes and a lot of merriment.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Photo by Darren Bell

Priscilla Queen of the Desert. Photo by Darren Bell

The musical, starring Strictly Come Dancing winner Joe McFadden, is based on the Oscar-­winning film, Priscilla, following the hilarious adventure of three drag artists who board a battered old bus for Alice Springs to put on the show of a lifetime.This was Jason Donovan’s first outing as a producer - and he certainly delivered. It was the perfect show for him to test his mettle, as he had previously held the lead role of Mitzi (aka Tick).

Although he was behind the scenes now, it was his voice we first heard as the introductory announcement and we caught a glimpse of him and his former soapstar sweetheart Kylie Minogue - even if it was only two cardboard face masks.

Carrying on the homage to Jason’s Australian peer, there were plenty of Kylie references, with a ditty on Locomotion in act one, and a further mash up of Confide in Me, Spinning Around and Come into My World, with Felicia (Nick Hayes) dressed in her iconic blue Showgirl outfit.

As the show opened with the iconic song It’s Raining Men, with the ever so naughty Miss Understanding, the audience knew it was in for a raucous and racy ride. She had the audience in stitches with her innuendos - a theme that was carried on throughout.
Queen of the harsh put downs and one-liners was Bernadette, played by Jak Allen-Anderson who stood in for Miles Western. Her sassiness shone through - and she didn’t mince her words.

The cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

The cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Her love/hate relationship with Felicia was a joy to watch, with poor Mitzi (Joe McFadden) caught in the middle. A highlight was her fabulous lip syncing to I Will Survive - with a gloriously over the top performance. The Divas Nikki Bentley, Claudia Kariuki, and Rosie Glossop performed exceptionally well, delivering the great disco classics.

There were plenty of mishaps as the bus broke down, marking the appearance of Bob the mechanic, played by Daniel Fletcher, and his slightly embarrassing wife.

Amongst all the fun and glamour, however, was the seriousness of the prejudice drag artists face, which brought home how unjust society could be. But the show’s key message was identity and acceptance as Tick was able to show his true self to his son, Benji, playedon different nights by Freddie Wilson and Raynon Neri, who delivered an emotional melody of Say a Little Prayer, with his dad's version of Always on My Mind.

The show runs until Saturday, October 26.

Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette

Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette

To book tickets, from £17, visit www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/whats-on/priscilla-queen-of-the-desert

https://www.wintergardensblackpool.co.uk/whats-on/priscilla-queen-of-the-desert