Priscilla, Queen of the Desert tells the story of three drag queens traveling through the outback on a journey of self-discovery – a great Australian road trip with no COVID-19 border restrictions, simply faaaabulous daaarling.
- Tickets for new adaptation of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical) sell out in days
- Film critic claims original version of film was first major Australian film to bring queer content to mainstream audiences
- Theater director says Australians tired of COVID-19 are hungry for live theater
When the cult Australian film came out in 1994, it broke down barriers and opened up queer culture to the wider community.
Australian director Jamie Watt recalled how Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical) followed and became international success, traveling to Broadway and the West End.
“In 1994, Priscilla took the world by storm with this incredible movie,” he said.
Mr Watt said Priscilla’s themes still resonate nearly thirty years after the blockbuster’s release.
“They kind of came out of nowhere with this movie and ended up with an Oscar for his costumes.
“Completely sold out”
Mr. Watt directs the latest adaptation of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (The Musical), for Spotlight Theater on the Gold Coast
A sign of the story’s enduring popularity, the production saw unprecedented demand when tickets went on sale in June, with the show selling out within days.
“I think there might be a couple of tickets left, other than that we’re sold out.
Mr Watt said that after several lockdowns from COVID-19, Australians yearn for live performances and connection.
“They are hungry for things that don’t look like inside their house,” he said.
“When we present these opportunities to them, especially on a show like Priscilla – where it’s just an exaggerated, flamboyant celebration of being yourself – people will just gravitate towards it.”
“Army of volunteers”
Of course, there is no shortage of glitter and makeup.
Original costume designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner won an Oscar for their work in the 1994 film.
Spotlight costume designer Nada Kulic has been working on her recreations for the Gold Coast show for over a year.
“She has this army of volunteers – [who] are just phenomenal too – who organized this beautiful wardrobe for the show.
” I think there is [more than] 50 pieces of dragsters in the show all of which were completely handcrafted, ”Mr. Watt said.
“Spotlight relies on volunteers. We have been operating since [more than] 65 years as a theater company.
“The tenacity and the will and the pure passion for theater that these volunteers have is truly inspiring.”
Mermaid Waters singing teacher David Valks said he was excited to star for Spotlight in one of the lead roles, as Bernadette, after a successful career in London’s West End.
However, her partner is blocked by Sydney’s COVID-19 lockdown and will not be able to travel to the Gold Coast to be in the public.
“I’m very grateful that we were able to put on a show during the recent outbreaks, but border restrictions mean my friends and family in Sydney won’t be able to see me perform.
“My fiance works in Sydney and usually flies away on weekends, I’m devastated that he can’t meet Bernadette, but there is still something to be thankful for.”
Film critic Sarah Ward grew up in Broken Hill and still remembers the original Priscilla filmed there.
“It was a great movie. It had a great impact,” Ms. Ward said.
Ms Ward said Screen Australia research shows Priscilla to be one of the most influential Australian films of all time.
“Screen Australia assessed a number of things [such as] box office and how it got around the world, the fallout it had with things like the musical.
“Just the general cultural impact, in terms of what people have been talking about for almost three decades.”
“In terms of queer content, this was really one of the first great Australian films that brought in these things and ideas and these characters – these drag queens, running through the Australian outback – that brought them to a sort of of mainstream prominence. “
From Broken Hill to Broadway and now in Benowa, July 23 through August 21.
A powerful story that stands the test of time.