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Watch: 'Priscilla, Queen of the Desert' Opening Night Interviews, 'Today' Show Performance


I had a chance to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert as it opened Sunday on Broadway, and highly recommend it. Here is a round-up of reviews. The NYT's Charles Isherwood pretty much savaged it. If you're not prepared for something unapologetically gay and high-energy, probably not a good idea to see it. It's light on plot, heavy on joy, which was fine with me.

I've always been a fan of the movie so was anxious to see how it translated. Much of the quirkier tunes on the movie's soundtrack have been replaced by disco and pop classics more familiar to mainstream audiences, so don't expect a repeat musically, though some of the big numbers like Cece Peniston's "Finally" have been retained. I would say some of the more melancholic, darker musical edges of the film have been traded in and the insane wardrobe of the cinema version multiplied and exploded to great effect for the stage. The bus is a vision to behold.

The show is also going to make Nick Adams (Felicia) a star. It's hard to take your eyes off him, or his stacked thighs. Tony Sheldon is also terrific as Bernadette. The force of their personalities make it a bit difficult for Will Swenson (who was terrific as Berger in the recent production of Hair) to stake out distinct territory here.

Watch some Broadway Beat interviews from the opening and a Today show performance from earlier this week, AFTER THE JUMP...

NOTE: Priscilla is an advertiser on this site.

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  1. I don't think Priscilla Queen of the Desert is gay at all. Camp, yes. Gay, no.

    I'd much rather see a play that is truthful to our lives and doesn't rely on camp to dilute our sexuality. Priscilla fails because it treats us like camp freak shows. It's an Australian concept, which basically explains everything.

    Posted by: brian | Mar 22, 2011 9:18:19 AM

  2. No single show can "explain" everything about us -- "Priscilla" least of all. But camp IS gay.

    Lighten up, Brian.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Mar 22, 2011 9:30:37 AM

  3. I saw it Sunday too and LOVED IT!!! Gay, Camp, whatever, it was Musical Theater at it's best!

    Posted by: Bading | Mar 22, 2011 9:35:02 AM

  4. That's CHARLES Ishwerwood, not Christopher.

    Posted by: Rick S. | Mar 22, 2011 9:41:10 AM

  5. I think you mean Charles Isherwood. Christopher Isherwood has been dead for 25 years, though I suspect he would have enjoyed the show.

    Posted by: Smartypants | Mar 22, 2011 9:42:29 AM

  6. @smartypants lol. Yes, that's what I meant.

    Posted by: Andy Towle | Mar 22, 2011 9:43:51 AM

  7. I get so tired of the gays who bemoan drag and camp and claim it makes us look like freak shows, like every gay person has a responsibility to make us all look mainstream and masculine. You've really missed the point of Priscilla entirely, Brian. Have fun, be honest, and make life a spectacle to behold!

    Seriously though, can you imagine what middle America must have been thinking when 8 gigantic macho men showed up on the Today Show in the most outrageous drag lipsyncing the gayest anthem ever? Can't help but think that we're winning. Winning for real, not like Charlie Sheen.

    Posted by: ColinATL | Mar 22, 2011 10:10:21 AM

  8. Love Camp
    Love Gay
    If they took out "I Never Been To Me" then it is a FAIL.

    As for Nick Adams --- sorry no X Factor and not a star.

    Just another dime a dozen guy with an attitude and gym membership. He has bad energy and will never be a star outside of vapid gay circles.

    Posted by: reality 101 | Mar 22, 2011 10:22:20 AM

  9. I saw this show in London last year and couldn't wait to get the hell out of the theater. It's only slightly more entertaining than Mama Mia which is atrocious. Priscilla has the audience singing along and dancing in their seats. You'll feel like you died and went to Vegas.

    Posted by: JOHNINMANHATTAN | Mar 22, 2011 10:27:28 AM

  10. I have seen this show and find it pure unmitigated garbage. Rent the film. It makes a much better evening is a great deal less expensive. The NY pr
    The NY Times got it 100% correct

    Posted by: Kevin Thor | Mar 22, 2011 11:00:18 AM

  11. Have to agree with JohnInManhattan. Saw it in London and it was just a singalong like Mamma Mia (which is fine, if you're into that sort of thing). I just found it amazing how they were able to completely remove any trace of the pathos (yes, pathos) and character development that accompanied the hilariously over-the-top camp of the movie. The juxtaposition of those disparate elements were what made the film so appealing to me.

    If you want to stand in your seat and belt along to a bunch of diva tunes, you'll like it. But if you're looking for camp AND a story, try La Cage Aux Folles. A much more intimate production (e.g. less splashy) but not even on the same planet in terms of what you'll take away.

    Posted by: Dave | Mar 22, 2011 11:10:06 AM

  12. I think Nick Adams is perfectly fine in this role.

    And I agree... if they took out "I've Never Been to Me", then that's a huge flaw right there. I would also say the same thing for the "E strano, e strano" aria from Traviata that Felicia lip synched while riding on top of the bus in that huge high heeled shoe. That has to be in the show. It just has to.

    Posted by: The Milkman | Mar 22, 2011 11:12:18 AM

  13. vap·id
    lacking or having lost life, sharpness, or flavor; insipid; flat: vapid tea.
    without liveliness or spirit; dull or tedious: a vapid party.

    Pretty much describes Nick and that Today show performance.

    Posted by: reality 101 | Mar 22, 2011 11:41:47 AM

  14. Priscilla was disheartening to say in the least.

    It felt like a gay minstrel show; much of the audience was laughing at the characters, not with them.

    Much of the audience treated it with whatever is the heterosexual equivalent of imperalistic exoticism. Like the gay characters were these fascinating sub-humans who operated in a manner entirely foreign to these people. "Oooh, look at those crazy homosexuals and their crazy homosexual antics!"

    Posted by: cc | Mar 22, 2011 11:56:38 AM

  15. "Gay, Camp, whatever, it was Musical Theater at it's best!"

    Isn't musical theater at its best when the music is original to the show?

    Posted by: Dastius Krazitauc | Mar 22, 2011 1:05:06 PM

  16. Saw it in London and unless they have improved it tremendously the Broadway show will suck too.

    Posted by: Shane | Mar 22, 2011 1:19:33 PM

  17. Another anemic, profiteering counterfeit of some other culture's vitality. Twice the hype, none of the charm, and content be damned.

    Watching a society whose only remaining value is wealth trying to produce art is like watching a hundred-year-old man take viagra to masturbate, When the 90 minutes it takes to get it up finally results in a fatal stroke, we're left with a combination of terrible compassion for the victim and deep resentment at being forced to be witnesses.

    Oh, the humanity!

    Posted by: Bryan | Mar 22, 2011 2:21:03 PM

  18. It looks fun. It's like what Xanadu was a few years back. Not Chekhov, not brain surgery. Just fun. Jeez. Broadway has to survive somehow!

    Also, is that Nikki Harris (Madonna backup singer) singing lead? Rock on girl!

    Posted by: rob | Mar 22, 2011 2:44:41 PM

  19. @ Dastius Krazitauc

    This is the post-post-modern condition. Everything that can be done HAS been done and everything that can be said HAS been said! The feather boa I had brought was ripped to shreds. Now THAT was fun!

    Posted by: Bading | Mar 22, 2011 2:49:01 PM

  20. Priscilla was much worse than the horrendous LaCage playing on Broadway. A classless orchestraless and cagelleless piece of non theatre.

    Posted by: Kevin Thor | Mar 22, 2011 3:13:08 PM

  21. Would someone put out a bowl of milk for this crowd? Damn......

    Posted by: Bruce Simpson | Mar 22, 2011 4:27:56 PM

  22. I saw it on Friday with 6 other friends. We all loved it. It's high energy, familiar tunes, fab costumes. If you expected Shakespeare, you're in the wrong theater.

    Posted by: Jack | Mar 22, 2011 4:37:17 PM

  23. saw the show in london, and LOVED it.

    does that make me a big screaming nelly queen?

    i don't think so, but i do loves me my pop music and high camp drama.

    my biggest concern/complaint, being a HUGE kylie minogue fan, is the apparent decision to remove the kylie references from the oz/uk productions (after having previously updated them from abba references) to madonna references so that us audiences will "GET" the jokes.

    isn't it a given that the majority of the audience who'll be attending this show be a little less xenophobic than the average broadway audience?

    hope to see the ny show soon, especially by the sound of the responses to this post by the majority of folks they soon hope to see this show replaced by "root canal-the musical!"

    Posted by: Adolfo | Mar 22, 2011 5:38:34 PM

  24. Adolfo: Bear in mind that producers of Broadway shows always are thinking long term. By that, I mean the touring show market. I agree that a great majority of attendees of the NY show would "get" the Minogue references. That won't be the case if Priscilla ever ends up on tour. Local markets have "season" packages, which means a good sized percentage of attendees might only show up because they paid for the full season. It's possible that the Madonna change was made with that in mind.

    Posted by: alex | Mar 23, 2011 1:18:09 AM

  25. With the entire pro and con it makes me want to see it. I'll either love it or hate it but at least it will prove I'm alive.

    For good or bad, sometimes one shouldn't care, just have fun, it isn’t Shakespeare but who cares

    Posted by: EJ | Mar 29, 2011 8:08:01 AM

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