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Review: Priscilla Queen of the Desert (Theatre Royal Brighton)

If you are, by chance, looking for a way to outclass and out-glamour an award-winning movie, use Priscilla Queen of the Desert as your bible. Truly, this performance from start to finish is an absolute masterpiece. 

There is a buzz in the air before the performance even begins. An atmosphere of excitement and anticipation, bringing an energy to the audience pre-show that in the vast majority of performances you'll ever see, simply doesn't exist. The cast are absolutely brilliant in the way they take hold of this energy as they relentlessly blitz through the story and songs, expertly keeping the engagement of the audience. To not sing and dance along in your seat during this show is nothing short of sacrilege, luckily there wasn't a seat in sight in violation of this unwritten rule.

The main trio, Joe McFadden as Tick/Mitzi, Miles Western as Bernadette and Nick Hayes as Felicia/Adam, are simply phenomenal. Each character has a specific element that aids in their chemistry. Tick is an endearing and lovable, McFadden's performance makes that very accessible. Bernadette is an expert at dry comic relief, something that Western handles deftly and with ease. Felicia brings all the sass, which Hayes shows with a fiery tenacity. The sheer level of talent in the supporting cast and ensemble makes for a spectacle in every single song and dance in this musical. 

Now, for the music and vocal performances, all I can say is... Wow. I mean seriously, wow. The harmonies emanating from the voice of the cast are just magic. Many an occurrence of goosebumps throughout. The orchestra, consistently inch-perfect. A stunning combined effort from musical director Sean Green, assistant musical director Richard Atkinson and musical arrangements and supervisor Stephen 'Spud' Murphy. I've honestly lost track of just how many exceptional performances throughout the cast there are. A testament to casting director Will Burton; From child actors, to dancers, to divas, to the main three, there is not a single person out of place on that stage. 

With all this positivity it's hard to believe I'm yet to mention my favourite part of the musical. Yet somehow, it does indeed get better! For me, the element of the show that truly elevated it was the design. The set was insane. So many moving components to create the iconic Priscilla bus, in multiple iterations might I add, the casino, the junk-yard drinking grounds, the ping-pong ball scene. A particular favourite of mine was the end performance and the costume/actor changes throughout that being absolutely inspired and spectacularly done. Intricate creations expertly put into practice by a cast easily comparable to a well-oiled machine, the set changes were so slick. So, set and costume designers Charles Cusick-Smith and Phil R Daniels, choreographer Tom Jackson Greaves and of course, director Ian Talbot, please for this magnificent job, take a bow. 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert was met with an overwhelming round of applause and well deserved standing ovation from the entire audience. An outstanding show with a wholesome message of embracing difference, put on in one of the acceptance capitals of the world, is a truly incredible experience. 

Priscilla Queen of the Desert, is showing at the Theatre Royal Brighton until 4th January 2020 – Book tickets here:  or call 0844 871 7650

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