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Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical – (Review) Toronto pre-Broadway November 24, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, musical theater, Theatre.
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Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the Musical, now playing in Toronto and London, and heading to Broadway this coming spring, is in a word “FAB-U-LOUS.”

Seen in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theatre, the musical follows the movie pretty faithfully, expanding on a few key scenes, and using much of the music of the original soundtrack (although some has been replaced with alternate songs due to copyright difficulties).

Not in the know? Rent the movie. Now imagine it larger, louder, more colorful, and with more outlandish costumes, and you have Priscilla the Musical.

The cast is uniformly excellent — led by Tony Sheldon, WIll Swenson, and Nick Adams, the very strong ensemble cast sings, dances, in drag and out, while hopping, bounding, and caroming around the (at times cramped) stage — and coming close to landing in the laps of the audience members on several occasions.

I can not recall the last time I had this much sheer fun at a musical and it is going to play on Broadway for years — so get your tickets now. (For those of you in the midwest, try to get to Toronto to see the show in the more intimate Princess of Wales, at half the price of Broadway tickets).

There is masterful work here across the board – from the performers to the dazzling stage effects throughout the production. The sets dazzle, the lighting is colorful, and everything moves at lightning speed.

Beware if you sit in the first five rows. “Evil Dead the Musical” usually calls the first few rows of its audience the “splatter zone” since you will get red-dye cornsyrup “blood” all over you….Well, Priscilla should call the first five rows the “Confetti and Glitter zone”…an hour after the show, and I am still trying to get it all out of my coat. It’s all great fun, though.

But most importantly – the show works. It’s great fun, but it has a heart larger than the whole outback, and I dare you not to cry. I dare you. But you don’t have much time to worry about it – because the show is instantly off  a few moments later and barreling along at a pace that literally leaves you gasping for breath. In a really good way.

I absolutely loved Priscilla, and am already making plans to see it again in NYC. This is just plain old one of the best musicals I have seen in ages — pencil in Best Musical, Best Actor in a Musical, Best Set Design, and Best Costume Design Tonys right now — and it hasn’t even opened in NYC yet. It is that good. It’s hug-your-dog, blast your stereo and dance around the house good. It’s laugh your way all the way back to the hotel good. I don’t usually give stars in my reviews, but I will make an exception and rate this one Five out of Five stars.

By the way, needless to say, the show is not appropriate for the wee ones — it’s not particularly offensive unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 30 years, but it is filled with drag-queens-on-a-bus debauchery and meyhem. It is the gayest thing you will most likely ever see live on stage. And it is fabulous.

This video from YouTube features the original London cast, but it looks identical in Toronto:

 

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