Priscilla, Queen of the Musicals

Celebs and Media, Toronto

Full disclosure: I absolutely hate musicals that rely on pop music to tell a story. I hate how the writers and producers try to crowbar a song about political unrest in Ireland into a musical number about seducing a love-at-first-sight prostitute.

Moulin Rouge? Hated it. So hated it. It actually makes me mad thinking of how this turd of a movie was actually liked by any percentage of humanity.

Mamma Mia? Love the music, hate the show. Take my Gay card. Please.

Priscilla? When we sat in our 5th row seats (thank you SharkBoy!!), I opened the playbill and scanned the musical numbers and found not one original tune I thought “Kill me now.”

Well. I’m eating crow, it seems.

Last night’s performance of Priscilla was amazing. Yes it was fluff and unoriginal like any derived movie-to-musical but I can honestly say it was as much fun as watching the movie, if not better. The show hit all the great points of the movie; story, character and costumes, and did so in an inventive fresh way. I found myself engrossed in the story as if I was watching the movie for the first time. This was thanks to the cast: each member bringing enough familiarization that makes you connect to the movie, yet adding their own twists to their character to make it fun to rediscover. Most notably is Tony Sheldon, who plays Bernadette (Raaaalph!) completely right angles to Terrence Stamp’s creation. Sheldon’s Bernadette is more like a smart Lucile Ball, a wide eyed Carol Channing compared to Stamp’s subtle yet strong Bernadette. And it works – s/he creates magic with a nod, a glance, a well timed pause.

The show is full of risks, in the metaphorical and physical, and they succeed on every level. I won’t spoil one technical marvel, but I’ve never been that close to a woman’s stiletto heel before in my life. If you thought a falling chandelier was a captivating stage effect, a drag queen on a giant shoe on a bus will decimate that.

Go see it before it leaves Toronto. And I’m not saying this because I’m a homo. It’s just a damn fun show.

6 thoughts on “Priscilla, Queen of the Musicals

  1. postbear

    for some reason the show we saw was heavily laced with high drag, including a ton of lookalikes from the film and similarly over the top costumes. balancing that was someone dressed up as a dead nun.

    i didn’t get a racist vibe from the aboriginal scene, they took pains to have him explain that he was dressed up in warpaint in order to amuse (and extract money from) the tourists, and the tourists were the obvious butt of all the jokes onstage. i was just mildly annoyed that the scene was too short and that the average joe aboriginal guy (who surprises the audience by putting on the costume and wig and camps it up) from the film was transformed into, onstage, an androgynous/semi-feminine human from the get-go who surprises no-one by putting on a simple dress and jumping around for twenty seconds.

  2. Dead Robot

    We were directly under the technical marvel and pretty much lost the magic of the moment to fear of getting crushed.

    Do have to agree, the aboriginal screen was a bit too short. Could have been longer and less …racist?

    There were a few drag queen, yes. But they really paled with what was up on stage.

  3. postbear

    your technical marvel spoiler moment had me and my friend trying to use our telekinetic powers for evil, but without success. some of the costumes were notable, particularly the doctor who inspired ones and the one from the coffin scene that will be much emulated this hallowe’en.

    shame about the madonna nonsense, but pop people are pretty much interchangeable. a couple of the numbers seemed torturous and forced to me, but they have time to work out bugs still. was your audience full of priscilla-esque drag queens?

    oh, and one highlight for me was opening up the programme and seeing, on page 2, a full-page ad for a catholic boys’ school. i think my primary disappointment was seeing the scene with the aboriginals diminished a bit too much, but that was one of my favourite parts of the movie.

  4. SharkBoy

    I was disappointed that they changed the gay icon from Kylie Minogue to Madonna to fit the American audience… We all know Kylie is the real pop diva.
    Otherwise, I smiled and laughed the entire show. I’ve never clapped so much at a live show like I did this one.

  5. Cb

    I’ll just have to pray it comes to Minneapolis.

    And I HATED Mamma Mia– with the intensity of 1,000 exploding suns

  6. Don

    I can’t stand musicals either but perhaps I would go see this one. Oh and you can have my gay card. It was revoked long ago.

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