HIP, hip hooray – the curtain at Birmingham Hippodrome rose again last night ending an 18-month lockdown.
CEO Fiona Allan veritably oozed jubilation as she walked to on-stage to welcome us back. The roar that greeted her was deafening and there was a nary a dry eye in the house.
Exit Fiona stage right, strike up the live band from the pits under the musical direction of Richard Atkinson and lights up on a show that has gained legendary status and a loyal following – known affectionately simply as ‘Priscilla’.
For the uninitiated, this is a musical adventure about three friends who happen to be drag queens, on a personal quest in a tour bus called Priscilla. They travel across Australia from Sydney to Alice Springs – and what a splendid journey it is!
Edwin Ray is totally captivating as the gentle Tick/Mitzi, a queen with a past that includes fathering a son he has never seen – hence the reason for his journey.
He is joined for the fun of it by the outrageous but undeniably body-beautiful Felicia/Adam (played with lashings of passion and credibility by Nick Hayes) and the ageing Bernadette – a beautifully understated performance by Miles Western, which makes you listen and care.
Whilst Tick and Adam are gay men and female impersonators, Bernadette has had a sex change to become the woman that was born inside her body – quite a daring role to include in the original film 25 years ago and way before transgender was an acceptable conversation topic.
The trio are supported by a first-class singing and dancing ensemble, plus three magical divas, Rosie Glossop, Claudia Kariuki and Aiesha Pease – all of whom have lung power to raise the roof.
I have two special hat-doffing mentions – firstly Daniel Fletcher as Bob the heart of gold mechanic who falls for Bernadette and secondly Grace Lee as Bob’s outrageous bi-polar Thai-bride Cynthia, who outrageously puts the ‘ping’ into Ping-Pong.
The anonymous ‘creatives’ include frantic and breath-taking choreography– spot-on direction and a wondrous collage of clap-a-long, sing-a-long musical arrangements (thank you for including one my all-time favourite classics – MacArthur Park) and stunning-glittering settings plus delectable and endless sparkling tinsel, feathers and frocks.
Long may this Queen reign – absolutely loved it and exited the auditorium with an aching jaw from laughing so much; tears of pure joy in my eyes and the happy pounding music of a great band.
Never has a musical been more timely – Unmissable!
Priscilla runs at the Hippodrome until Saturday, September 14. Click here for times, tickets and more information.