Stage West Calgary - Review Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Some musicals have a soft swell of the overture as it leads almost gently into the first scene setting up the characters, and the main plot. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert launches right into it with an energetic volley of lights, music and drag queens. From that first beat of the bass till the last triumphant note, this musical is high energy, high fun, and high laughs.

Tick is invited by his ex-wife to perform at her

resort clear across Australia. More than just a performance for him, he nonetheless recruits newcomer Adam and the practically retired Bernadette, a drag queen who has transitioned. As they travel across Australia in their rickety bus christened Priscilla, they encounter trials, triumphs, and the strength of friendship.

I am always in awe of how Stage West designers can absolutely transform the stage and make such excellent use of the space. From the seamless transitions to the inclusion of digital assets, it is so immersive.

But now I have to talk costumes. From cakes to paintbrushes to aliens to showgirls (and that’s not even half of the different costumes we saw during this show!), the costume design was on another level. If there’s not an award category for quick dressers, there needs to be!

I love a good jukebox musical – which is a musical that has more popular, well-known songs than original ones, and the songs chosen for the score fit so well with new arrangements that have me searching Spotify so I can add it to my playlist, but I have to say I never once expected to hear MacArthur Park in any kind of musical form.

As we lead into Pride month, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is the perfect piece to loudly proclaim that love is love and family is often who we choose to support us through everything – the good, the struggle, and the triumph.


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