Priscilla Queenj of the Desert

Date 10th February 2022
Society Stamford Showstoppers
Venue Stamford Corn Exchange
Type of Production Musical
Director Nicola Sandell
Musical Director Cassandra Pattison
Choreographer Nicola Sandfell


Author: Tessa Davies

Stamford Showstoppers may be a relatively new society, with just two previous productions under their belts, but the standard of performance and enthusiasm is outstanding.  It is clear that the entire cast is one big family and that they thoroughly enjoy being on stage together.

The three Principals were excellent, Bernadette, played by Glen Whitmore delivered just the right sarcastic but caring character that the role needs to keep the storyline running well.  Andrew Cleaver played Tick/Mitzi very well (for those familiar with the show’s professional history, this is the role that Jason Donovan originally created for the stage).   Andrew did it proud, his characterisation was spot on, showing the doubt and anguish Tick has at being a father despite his drag queen background.   Duncan Balcon was terrific as Adam/Felicia, this is not an easy part to play but his performance was just right.  All three performers have stunning voices, doing these, much loved, songs justice.

There were 4 Divas in this cast (normally there are three) but the switches they made worked and there is no rule that says you only have three!  They all performed well, and the lip sync scenes were excellent.

There were some excellent solo songs and performances from many of the cast and, as I have come to expect, some terrific and well executed choreography.  Occasionally I felt there were, maybe, too many people on stage.  That’s the problem when you have a large company and I understand the desire to give them all as much stage time as possible.  However, sometimes, less is better. 

I would particularly refer to the Coopers Crossing ‘rape’ scene.  If you have a shortage of men and need to use ladies for male parts, then I would recommend keeping them to a minimum.  A few of the cast made a strong effort by putting on moustaches and wearing hats.  But just putting your hair into a pony tail and wearing trousers does not portray a male!  I have seen this scene done with just 6-8 cast plus the Principals and I think it might have been more effective to have reduced the people on stage for this scene.   Maybe spread the cast across more scenes to save flooding the stage with people next time? 

I would also recommend that the cast are alerted to the need for creating good sightlines.  If you are standing behind someone and cannot see all the audience, then they cannot see you!

The singing was excellent and a credit to MD Cassandra Pattison and the choreography, by Director Nicola Sandell, was, as I have already noted, strong, challenging and well executed.

I loved the bus!  The team who were responsible for moving the parts around did an excellent job and it worked very well.  I thought that the costumes were a bit hit and miss.  I appreciate how they were acquired and understand the need to keep costs to the minimum.  However, with two different types of both paintbrushes and cakes, the scenes lost a bit of their coherence.  I would also say that a show like Priscilla really needs someone back stage to monitor the costumes before they go on stage.  There were occasions when they were not worn to their best advantage and Priscilla is as much about the costumes as it is about the songs!  I also missed the ‘drag’ makeup for the Principals, I know it is difficult when there are quick changes from ‘non drag’ to drag but I am sure something could have been done to give a stronger ‘drag’ image.

I saw the first performance so, inevitably, there were slow cue take ups for lighting and even an early mobile phone reply when the phone was still in Bernadette’s bag.  Glen covered it well, but it didn’t need to happen.

Overall, though, a great show, well performed with enthusiasm and style.    Well done Stamford Showstoppers and thank you for your hospitality.