Review: Priscilla Queen of the Desert @ The Palace Theatre, Manchester

Excess, exuberance and exaggeration sums up the essence of Australian smash hit Priscilla Queen of the Desert perfectly.

And after the highs (or lows) of Valentine’s Day, the generally gloomy winter weather and that tricky part of the month where payday seems a very long way off this camp-tastic production is just the ticket to shake away the winter blues and transport you to the sun-kissed shores of Australia.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert tells the story of three friends, two drag queens and a transgender woman, who travel through the Australian outback aboard a tour bus called Priscilla and chronicles the escapades they get up to along the way.

Jason Donovan has reprised his role as drag queen Tick and appears to have slipped back into his flamboyant lycra, marabou feathers and, erm, flip-flop ensemble with ease.

Every gay anthem under the sun, along with a surprising operatic number and a couple of country songs thrown in for good measure, was crammed into the two-hour extravaganza. And you know what? It was fabulous.

But it wasn’t just Donovan who commanded the limelight; his co-stars fellow Aussie Richard Grieve, who played Bernadette, and Graham Weaver who took on the role as the colourful Felicia were superb.

Not to mention the ensemble cast, in particular the three divas (Emma Kingston, Ellie Leah and Laura Mansell) who fly in and hover above the stage while belting out the show’s hits.

OUTRAGEOUS! Jason Donovan with co-stars

But if you scratch below the make-up and glitter-encrusted surface this flamboyant spectacular also had some incredibly moving moments sharing messages of tolerance and compassion in the face of homophobia and bigotry.

This was all the more poignant given the widespread violence that the LGBT community in Russia was, and still is facing, during the Sochi Winter Olympics.

Priscilla was a riot of colour, lights and music and had audiences laughing raucously one minute and singing and dancing along the next.

If you’re looking for a fabulous feel-good night out then this musical is for you – not to be missed!

Jason and co are in town until February 22 before moving onto the next leg of the UK tour.

Pictures courtesy of Paul Coltas, with thanks.

Trailer courtesy of priscillaonstage via YouTube, with thanks

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