Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Date 3rd May 2018
Society St Albans Musical Theatre Company
Venue Alban Arena, St Albans
Type of Production Musical
Director Martyn Knight
Musical Director Martin Smith
Choreographer Martyn Knight


Author: Nova Horley

I feel Priscilla is a much maligned show because of the content, but when you take it apart it is a view on a specific lifestyle, with all the highs, lows, joy and distress this may bring, and as such is a very pertinent story.

Yes, it has its frivolous side, but also a deeper side, the music and the relationships make this a show worth watching, and is one I always enjoy, particularly when the three lead characters are so convincing and real.  Full marks to Mathew, Daniel and Freddie for creating those characters.

Scenery was good quality, and technically everything worked well, sound balance between stage and pit was good, and I liked the way the lighting enhanced the set and the action.

The Director used his cast well, particularly within the confines of the stage with Priscilla taking up a good part of the depth, and the crew ran it seamlessly with the help of the cast.  Andrea Campusano was a very hands on Assistant Director, she must have accomplished an inordinate amount of work to pull all the detail together, a brilliant job.

The MD had got together a good orchestra, who were enthusiastic, and accompanied well, whilst giving extra verve to their overture and dance breaks.  The cast were also well-drilled musically, and showed good harmonies overall.

Choreographically I enjoyed what was done, always equal to the varying abilities of the cast, but I would have liked something a bit more exciting at times.  All the ensemble pieces were good, and everyone gave energy and confidence to what they did.

With regard to costumes, I was a little disappointed with the finale costumes for the three leads, I felt they fell short of spectacle.  I particularly liked the Divas green costumes.

The opening was excellent, lively and colourful, giving us a first experience of the energy of the production, and the funeral scene was also good, I liked the empathy between Bernadette and Tick.  The Floor Show was particularly well done, very slick and entertaining.

Mathew Collyer created a super Tick/Mitzi – always appearing slightly unsure about his sexuality, but keeping his persona throughout.  I loved his rendition of ‘I Say a Little Prayer’ and ‘True Colors’ with Felicia and Bernadette was very poignant.

I thought Daniel Quirke made an excellent Adam/Felicia, here was someone who wasn’t ashamed of who he was, and flaunted it for everyone to see – a great characterisation, very full-on and outrageous, but Daniel also showed us his softer and more serious side.  I loved the Sempre Libera scene, very showy and larger than life!

Bernadette was very well-played by Freddie Marks, for me he got the right mix of male/female into a transgender character.  Costumes and wigs were all very suitable, although I would have liked the showgirl costume to have been a bit more sumptuous.  I liked Bernadette’s relationships with Tick and Adam, striking just the right contrast between her and the ‘boys’.

Mike Smith created a good character as Bob, I liked the way he spoke to Bernadette, and thought he delivered A Fine Romance well.  Jemma Puri as his wife Cynthia, gave a super portrayal, very cheeky and full-on, loved it!

Benji was very nicely played by Ben Pulford, he showed great maturity in his performance, and an ease with the other characters, whilst singing well and delivering his lines with feeling.  Well done.

Kate Chafer was a lively and understanding Marion, I enjoyed her performance.

The other characters were all nicely played, and fitted well into the scenarios.

The Divas – Charlotte Gregory, Julie Lilley and Fenella Lee all looked super, and sang extremely well with lovely harmonies, making the most of some great numbers.

Overall a super show, that gave us laughter and for me a few tears, always a good sign! The audience were fully engaged from the start. I enjoyed it from start to finish, and left feeling I had seen a really first class production.