Sunday, August 2, 2015

Review: PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

The feathers, the finery, the anthems, the heart -- "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" couldn't be more fun, says critic Toby Zinman.

Review: PRISCILLA QUEEN OF THE DESERT

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By Toby Zinman

For the Inquirer 

It’s like going to a great party with lots of Champagne: Priscilla Queen of the Desert The Musical is so much fun, so spectacular to look at, with so many danceable songs, that we all just bounced out of the Academy of Music on Tuesday night. 

Based on the 1994 Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the musical follows three  friends, all drag queens, from Sydney to Alice Springs where, among other things, they finally climb Ayer’s Rock. Priscilla is the name of the jalopy of a bus that takes Tick to see the wife and son nobody knew he had. The show is not only a blinged-up razzle-dazzler full of feathers and sparkles , but it’s also full of heart and important lessons about tolerance and love and friendship. 

Wade McCollum as Tick projects warmth and solidity underneath the spangled eyelashes, and his reunion with his son is genuinely touching without being cloying. Scott Willis, middle-aged and totally femme, falls in love with Bob (Joe Hart). the mechanic who rescues Priscilla. Bryan West is the youngest and cutest and silliest of the trio. 

The costumes and wigs are beyond fabulous (Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner won the Tony), the abs are beyond ripped, the singing and the dancing are boffo Broadway. 

The songs are lipsynching divadom’s favorites: “It’s Raining Men,” “I Will Survive,” “True Colors,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”  In a setup of sheer bliss, a cake is left out overnight in the rain, and Tick pounces on the opportunity, letting loose with a gleeful rendition of “MacArthur Park.” 

The contingent in the balcony waving their red feather boas while paper streamers rained down on all our heads definitely had the right idea.

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Academy of Music, Broad & Locust Streets. Through March 3. Tickets $20-$100. Information: 215-731-3333, or kimmelcenter.org/broadway,

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