Running since February 2011 A new musical based on the 1994 film about three drag queens traveling across the Australian outback in a bus called Priscilla, the show features a score of dance club favorites and Tony-winning costumes that defy description. Closes June 24th.
The Broadway production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert closed June 24, 2012. For current Broadway show listings and tickets, please click here.
According to its producers, "PRISCILLA is the heart-warming, uplifting adventure of three friends who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship and end up finding more than they could have ever dreamed of. With a dazzling array of outrageous costumes and a hit parade of dance-floor favorites, this wildly fresh and funny new musical is a journey to the heart of FABULOUS!"
The film that spawned this musical was generally well-received by critics, and (as predicted by several of said critics) has become a cult classic, of sorts. It as a Golden Globe nominee for Best Picture, and won an Oscar for Best Costumes for designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner. Chappel and Gardiner also designed the Broadway costumes, and won the 2011 Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle awards for best costumes.
The show came to Broadway from Toronto, where it is was prepped for North American audiences after successful productions in Sydney and London. Australian Tony Sheldon, who starred in both previous versions and received an Olivier Award nomination for his performance in London, stars in the Broadway production and received a Tony nomination. Here's a fun promotional video from Toronto:
Some people - many people, likely - won't be able to get enough of "Priscilla," a gaudy, bawdy, corny, campy and good-naturedly vulgar jukebox musical. Those seeking refined wit and subtlety should look elsewhere. [The show is] a loud, boisterous evening fueled by familiar disco tunes and some of the zaniest costumes in memory. The crowd loves it. At such moments of go-for-broke zaniness, quibbles seem beside the point.
"Priscilla Queen of the Desert," is not a show you rush to embrace. However, as the show races along, its persistence, cheeriness and pointless excess wear you down. It's in part about its witty, wacky costumes. It also revels in an endless stream of sexually explicit one-liners. And then there's the presentation of old chart-toppers, which often pop up for no reason at all. "Priscilla" will do anything to try to entertain - even stooping to dragging audience members on stage for a dance number – and it succeeds often enough to be appealing.
There's more than a Technicolor dose of Oz on display in the raucously winning disco musical "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." The aerobically exhausting choreography is by Ross Coleman, the hypnotic orchestrations and musical supervision are by Stephen "Spud" Murphy and the staging - campily sentimental - is by Simon Phillips. Maybe none of their contributions would matter without the sheer giddy-making blitzkrieg of costumes by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner. [The] crude book panders to a crowd that doesn't need winning over.
This production boasts a score of super-familiar disco and pop hits and some seriously show-stopping costumes. The nylon-thin plot is mostly an excuse to set up the classic tunes on the soundtrack. Needless to say, the show is campier than a tentful of Boy Scouts (working on their choreography merit badge). And there's a dance-party atmosphere that helps compensate for the show's plot implausibilities and clunkier moments.
New York Daily News
Dressers, pressers and supervisors do heavy lifting at this glossy costume party masquerading as a musical. The production delivers eye-poppingly flashy (and fleshy) fun - for a while. The joyride runs out of gas because Simon Phillips' busy big-budget spectacle works too hard to wow. As is, "Priscilla" is another movie plopped onto the stage without developing the plot or relationships. Tricks, along with crass one-liners, a trio of gravity-defying girl goddesses and a tricked-out bus can't keep you from noticing what's missing. The cast has varying success with the sketchy alter egos.
New York Magazine
We're treated to a high-speed Automat of toweringly tasteless costumes, camp levels so dangerously high you'll be finding stray sequins in the dryer for years to come, and a set list - sorry, a score - stuffed to its glittery gills with karaoke yester-hits. "Priscilla" is a well-above-average drag show with the pink afterimage of a plot, and three superbly sincere leads who fleetingly convince us we're seeing an actual musical with a real emotional arc. This being drag, the illusion is enough.
New York Post
It may look a bit ramshackle at times, but "Priscilla" has a big, joyous heart. Zippily directed by Simon Phillips, the show bursts with a festive spirit that helps overlook the ensemble's small size and the primitiveness of Ross Coleman's choreography. But what really sustains "Priscilla" is the chemistry between the three leads. When dancers dressed as giant cupcakes appear during "MacArthur Park," we enter some kind of psychedelic parallel dimension. And, for a musical, that's a very good thing.
New York Times
This hyperactively splashy show wants so desperately to give audiences a gaudy good time that the results are oddly enervating. While it is performed with gleaming verve and infusions of bawdy humor, "Priscilla" feels monotonous and mechanical. The musical moves in fits and starts under Simon Phillips's direction, trundling along as a series of interchangeable, aggressively rambunctious dance routines interspersed with catfights and scenes of moist sentiment in which bonds are forged and secrets revealed. The performers do their best to spritz some humanity on the proceedings.
Inartful here, crass there, this rollicking crowdpleaser in sequins nonetheless packs enough heart to leave the masses enthralled. [The] existing songs are shoehorned in with little rhyme or reason. Finest work of the evening, along with that of Sheldon, comes from costume designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner. Their wares here positively sparkle. Staging by Simon Phillips and choreography by Ross Coleman are energetic, if occasionally aimless and overdone. For all the glitz, there's a heart ticking true beneath it all, and that should earn "Priscilla" a long and profitable run
June 25, 2012
Easy booking service and very helpful. I do not get to go to many shows, so I'm not real familiar with all the details, but they made it simple.
Great show! What a laugh and a great crowd, too! Met fun people. Left smiling. Wonderful evening.
June 25, 2012
Great show sorry to see it's closing. Fantastic songs. Great costumes & set. Well worth seeing.
May 21, 2012
Wonderful show!!!! One of the best I've ever seen. Little risque for children but fabulous!!!!