Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Date 14th October 2021
Society Newark Amateur Operatic Society
Venue Roin Hood Theatre, Averham
Type of Production Musical
Director Justin Day
Musical Director Lindsay Follen
Choreographer Emma Bowler, William Dewick, Natasha Wade & Rachel Mitchell


Author: Amanda Hall NODA East Midlands Youth Co-ordinator Standing in for EM04North Lincs Rep

What a joy it was to be back in the theatre and share in the energy of this great performance of Priscilla – Queen of the Desert. As Justin Day (Director & Tick/Mitzi) says in the programme, “To say it’s been a bumpy ride would be an understatement but we are here.” And here they were indeed in outrageous vibrant costumes having a fabulous time.

The three queens complimented each other well, both physically but also in their characterisations, showing how each of them had had to overcome prejudice for being different. Justin Day never planned to be on-stage for this production but the pandemic led to him stepping into the role of Tick. Congratulations are very much due to him for directing such a good production that brought the comedy out of this great script and also for giving us a believable character that we really cared for. William Dewick (Adam/Felicia) was a whirlwind in heels, in fact very very high heels. He strutted around the stage with great presence showing he’s a triple threat, giving us a fabulous performance where we saw the vulnerable and the outrageous side of the character. Andy Morris (Bernadette) was elegant and controlled. She brought a maturity to the trio and showed all the signs of having been a fabulous showgirl. Bernadette is my favourite queen in Priscilla and Andy’s portrayal is up there with the best of them, fabulous.

How lovely it was to hear the rich tones of Mike Follen as Bob, it was quite emotional. This is not an easy role in a show of outrageousness but his character was strong and caring.

The Divas; Hollie Bird, Kate Taylor and Natasha Wade powered gloriously through some of the best known gay anthems around with harmonies and moves to match. Rachel Mitchell gave us an hilarious Shirley, with Dawn Stubbs as ping pong popping Cynthia and Angela Duignan as Marion (Tick’s wife). There was much to do amongst this smaller company and each one of them covered numerous roles producing some lovely cameos. Ben Towle (Miss Understanding/Young Bernadette/Jimmy/Lars) was particularly good as the drag queen in the opening scene introducing us to the show and also in his portrayal of Young Bernadette. Ollie Kirkwood (Jules/Barman/Lars) and Tony Rose (Farah/Frank/Lars), Emma Bowler & Lucy Brown as Ensemble and Zach Brown & Harry Buckley-Palmer sharing the role of Benji (Tick & Marion’s young son) completed this colourful company.

There were some lovely features in this production including the great Australian accents. A lot of time had obviously been spent on the set & costumes, and the whole appearance of all those taking part to great effect. Lindsay Follen had obviously had to combat the distanced singing rehearsals, but she brought the company together well with all the vocals, harmonies and backing. The choreography was simple but effective and unfortunately on the evening we attended there were a lot of sound issues. However, the theatre was full and the whole show was very much appreciated by the audience.

Congratulations to the whole team at NAOS and thank you so much for having us.