Priscilla Queen Of The Desert

Jan Leeming

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Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.

PRISCILLA - QUEEN OF THE DESERT

Date: 30th September 2009

PRISCILLA - Queen of the Desert

I had to go to London for a meeting on Wednesday 30th September and thought it would be a good idea to see a show.  Both Jonathan and I wanted to see Priscilla - Queen of the Desert - so he raced around and managed to get a couple of not bad seats in the Upper Circle.  I loved the film which came out 15 years ago and very much wanted to see how it transferred to the stage - especially as Jason Donovan was in the cast - he, of course, was one of my companions in 'I'm a Celebrity, Get me Out of here'.  

The story appealed to me very much because I experienced a seven month, 17000 mile trip around New South Wales in the 60's with a group called the Young Elizabethans - we took potted Shakespeare to the Bush in a Van thing not unlike Priscilla (the name of the Bus).  Recently on the Arcadia I was talking with an Australian Priest on a Sabbatical and he told me the the Young Lizzies are still going strong.  In my day, every State had it's own Shakespearean group.  It was hard work with long drives - sometimes over Bulldust roads - between venues. We had to carry heavy rostra and arms full of costumes and sometimes we performed in venues that were so cold, our breath hung in the air like clouds.  And I've only once been colder than I was at the Motel Titania in Oberon in the Blue Mountains 100 miles due west of Sydney.  The 'colder' place was a closed 'Atomic' town in Siberia where we encountered temperatures of minus 41 degrees.  On tour,  I remember the other female in the group, Laura, saying to me 'If you can hack this one Leeming, you'll be right'.  Well I did get through it and as they say in the song 'I'm Still Here'.

Priscilla  was absolutely superb - everything about it was excellent - the casting, the music, the costumes (brilliantly over the top) and the staging. 

The three lead characters were excellent and very well cast.  Jason showed a very sensitive side as the one who discovers that he had fathered a child from a very brief straight affair.  Oliver Thornton as Felicia was screamingly over the top and wonderful.  Bernadette's sensitivity and desire for love  (as a person of transgender) brought a lump to my throat.  Now, I'm not sure who to praise here.  On Wednesday, just before the performance, a voice announced that two roles would be played by Understudies and I thought I heard 'Bernadette' was one of them.  (Having collected Theatre Programmes since I was a very little girl, I had a very large collection which I donated to the Royal Theatrical Fund and then decided that I wouldn't buy programmes in future.  Consequently I didn't purchase a programme for Priscilla until after the show - I was so impressed, I had to have a keepsake) 

If Bernadette were played by one of the Understudies - Mark Inscoe and Phillip Arran-  or by Tony Sheldon - the characterisation was faultless and an absolute joy to watch.  I really did want to cry for her and was so pleased when she found love at the end.

A large chunk of the music is from decades back - great numbers which are as enjoyable today as they were then - 'Pop Music' - What's Love Got to Do with It - Macarthur Park, to mention a few.

I really cannot do justice to the show without writing a long piece telling you the whole story.  If you want a good night out, go and see Priscilla.  At the curtain call, Jonathan and I simultaneously said 'I want to come again' - and that's something I don't often say or feel.

What do you think? Send your feedback to contact@jan-leeming.com.