"Sassy disco glam down under"
by Michael Gray for remotegoat on 02/05/18

Another musical which started life on celluloid – ideally suited to the stage, though, since it celebrates performance and perseverance.

Like the 1994 movie, it follows three ill-assorted drag queens as they cross the outback to give a show in Alice Springs.

The jukebox is raided for a score of classic disco anthems; in Douglas Rintoul’s loud and proud production for the Queen’s, they’re performed by an excellent company of actor/musicians. Natasha Lewis, for example, plays great trombone, as well as the pastor at the funeral and the loud-mouth waitress Shirley.

Daniel Bailey is an energetic Felicia, belting out his lip-sync Sempre Libera on top of the bus, with the darker, vulnerable side of this character well suggested. Tom Giles, too, as Mitzi, torn between show-biz and family life. His Elvis Always On My Mind, in the quiet intimacy of his young son’s bedroom, is a lovely moment, all the more precious in the context of all that brash, bawdy banter.

Bernadette, the older, classier star, is movingly done by Mark Inscoe, a veteran of the West End production. Her numbers are beautifully delivered; A Fine Romance, with a flash-back to her heyday in Les Girls, is especially touching. There’s a fine supporting performance from Michael Cuckson as Bob the mechanic, a true gentleman, unhappily married to “exotic dancer” Cynthia [Miracle Chance].

But the true star of the show might well be Priscilla herself, the ramshackle tour bus, complete with mirror balls and two keyboards, lighting cleverly suggesting the epic journey. She’s the centre-piece of simple design - corrugated iron proscenium, star cloth, cat-walk – which leaves plenty of space for the choreography, the Act One finale the closest we get to a proper production number.

No-one would expect nuanced subtlety from a show about Antipodean drag artistes, and much of the music is surprisingly unengaging, perhaps because, like Tick’s McArthur Park, it starts off fortissimo and stays there.
But there’s much to enjoy – classic tunes, cheeky gags, happy endings all round.

And it’s the sort of Good Night Out you should really dress up for; for the opening night the audience gleefully matched the cast for glitter and glamour.

Other recent reviews by Michael Gray
Love, lies, loneliness and bats by Michael Gray
King Charles III by Mike Bartlett
Shakespearean History of future king by Michael Gray
Edith in the Dark
horror stories framed in biography by Michael Gray
Baroque Christmas Concert at St Anne's Limehouse
seasonal music honouring Hawksmoor’s architecture by Michael Gray
Jack and the Beanstalk - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch
a fresh new fairground panto by Michael Gray