A giant, purple stiletto chair greets you as you walk in the door to see PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT. This sparkly footwear is only the beginning to a dazzling, fun filled night.
Pride Films and Plays’ PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT is a heartwarming treasure
Priscilla has been around for a decade. Based on the 1994 movie, the Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the musical was first seen in Chicago a few years ago with the national tour. Now, Pride Films and Plays has brought it back to grace the Chicago theatre scene with all the glitz and glam anybody could hope for.
The story follows a group of three drag performers - Tick/Mitzi, Adam/Felicia, and Bernadette - across the Australian outback to reach Alice Springs. There, they’ve been offered a job performing at a casino owned by Tick’s wife. Unbeknownst to the other two, Tick is going not only to perform, but to meet his son. It’s a long journey - especially by bus.
Driving into the heart of Australia in their newly christened bus, Priscilla, the three face countless obstacles along the way. They encounter homophobia, bigotry, and intolerance, but also find a few good characters along the way (including a new romance for Bernadette). And this jukebox musical wouldn’t be complete without all the disco-studded classics like “It’s Raining Men,” I Love the Nightlife,” and “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
It’s a wonderful story that makes you feel both ends of the spectrum - it will almost bring you to tears at the tragic moments, but when it’s happy you are smiling ear to ear. Most of this is due to the three leads - Honey West as Bernadette, Jordan Phelps as Tick/Mitzi, and Luke Meierdiercks Adam/Felicia.
They all shine brightly as their respective characters. Phelps plays an understandably anxious leader of the group as he awaits meeting his son for the first time. Meierdiercks is outrageous as both Adam and Felicia. And West is a graceful and composed as the veteran performer and guide. As their relationship strengthens over the course of their journey, we feel everything right alongside with them. Bernadette’s hope over a budding romance with Bob (played with such ease and loveableness by John Cardone), Adam’s unwavering optimism, and Tick’s strength bringing them all together.
Pride Films and Plays Delivers With Creative Use of Small Space
One of the troubles that often arises with musicals is having enough space to create these larger than life worlds. However, it never seemed the world of Priscilla was ever too constricted. Glittery fabric adorns every entrance.
Dancers pop out from all sides of the stage to fill the stage with energy. A catwalk sits above the stage and creates another platform for even more action to take place. Even with the addition of a makeshift bus, they utilize the space well - rotating it around stage so we can see it from every angle.
Bring on the Costume Bling!
Another spectacular element to PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT was John Nasca’s phenomenal costumes. Each new song brings out another round of spectacular fashion. You cannot look away for a second as you drink in all the details - from the glitzed out paint roller costumes, to the sparkly divas, to the cake hats during “MacArthur Park”! Each and every one is fabulous.
This show has everything you could want out of a night at the theatre - a fabulous book, fantastic songs, beautiful costumes, and an outstanding cast. All I can say is get there while you still can! The performance is set to close this weekend, so if you have a chance to see it, you won’t be disappointed.
Note: An excerpt of this play appears in Theatre in Chicago.
Now through March 12
Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 7:30pm
Sundays at 3:30pm
Pride Arts Center
4139 N Broadway
Chicago, IL 60613