Sunday, March 13, 2011

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert ***

After runs in Sydney, Melbourne, New Zealand, London and Toronto, the musical version of the 1994 Aussie road movie has finally made it to New York. If you liked the movie, you'll love the musical. Considering how much a plot must be simplified to make room for musical numbers, the book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott ably captures the essence of the screenplay. The cast is led by Will Swenson and Nick Adams as the two drag queens and Tony Sheldon as the aging transexual. Swenson is good, Adams is better and Sheldon is sensational, good enough to make you forget Terence Stamp's memorable performance in the film. The sets by Brian Thompson are wonderful and the costumes by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner (who won an Oscar for the film's costumes) are so unbelievably over the top that just seeing them is worth the price of admission. Technically, it's a jukebox musical, with songs from disco to country and everything in between. Director Simon Phillips sure knows how to keep things moving. The pacing is breathless -- time never drags (sorry, folks, couldn't resist). Judging from the wildly enthusiastic reaction of today's audience, Priscilla should be around for a long time.

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