Winner of Best Technical Production award in our District
"...full houses and excellent reactions from the audience should make sure the future of the society is assured."NODA
"“Priscilla received full standing ovations from the audience every night. People wanted to buy tickets to see the show again but they couldn’t because it was sold out.”" Dunmow Broadcast
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
by Stephan Eliott
Director Peter Dedman and Iain Court
Musical Director Karen Chinery
Choreography Abi Carsberg
Collecting the NODA award for Best Technical Production
When the company discovered that the rights were available for Priscilla, they wanted to be among the first to stage it.
It’s expensive to put on and the fundraising has included Abba, Elton and Queen tributes at Foakes Hall, including Priscilla’s director Iain Court looking remarkably like Elton John in September. The show’s producer, Peter Dedman, who choreographed and appeared in the NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) award-winning Sister Act in Easter 2016 is playing the transgender character, Bernadette.
The all-singing-all-dancing extravaganza has a cast of 18 ranging in age from 11 to 50 who have been in rehearsal since May.
The show is based on an Australian film of 1994. Two drag queens travel across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs in a tour bus that they have named “Priscilla”, along the way encountering various groups and individuals. The title refers to the English term “queen” for a female impersonator.
Anthony “Tick” Belrose using the drag pseudonym of Mitzi Del Bra, is a Sydney based performer called to go to the outback to see the son he hasn’t seen since the child was a baby.
He takes with him two other performers, Bernadette, a recently bereaved transgender woman, and Adam Whitely, a flamboyant and obnoxious younger drag queen who goes under the drag name Felicia Jollygoodfellow. The three don’t get on. The bus breaks down and they are rescued by a mechanic called Bob.
Jennifer Miles-Davis who plays Australian grumpy landlady, Shirley said: “The show is hilarious but it’s also poignant.”
This is an iconic production and woe betide any society who strays from the conventions that have been established. I am pleased to say that Dunmow Players mainly stuck to those conventions and produced a show that was colourful, fun, thought provoking and very enjoyable. From the moment the music started, the audience were enjoying themselves. Never mind that the Australian accents were not very evident, we just wanted to wallow in the great music, wonderful costumes and great performances.
Tick (Mitzi) played by Michael Boone Traveller, has an excellent singing voice although he was a little half-hearted in the dance numbers. Overall this was a good performance though. Bernadette, played by Peter Dedman, had some excellent lines to deliver and he did it with great style. Adam (Felicia) played by Joe Edmunds, gave strong performance as the flighty one, very energetic.
The three Divas, Victoria Carey, Aylin Cetinkaya and Jessica Webb, are crucial to the production and these three ladies are all excellent singers with strong harmonisation when called for. The lip sync scenes worked well and they produced a strong set of vocals throughout the show.
The two featured drag artists, Miss Understanding, played by Garry Bray and Young Bernadette, played by Eddie Davis were good; Eddie, in particular was very impressive. Very believable!
The part of Bob was played by Simon Dedman and he did well considering he has no previous performing experience. The remainder of the Principals all performed well, especially Henry Davis as Young Benji, shame his song was drowned out by the lack of a working microphone. The ensemble played the multiple parts well and the show moved at a good pace.
Costumes were excellent, unfortunately not credited in the programme which is a pity. The band was well balanced and, when the cast were properly mic’d they could be heard over the music.
I must give a special mention for the scenery, particularly the bus. This was designed and built by members of the company and it was excellent. It worked very well, moved smoothly, looked the part and contributed strongly to the overall ‘look’ of the show.
So, a very good show, with a few small issues but, the audience didn’t care, we were having such a great time. Well done to Dunmow Players for taking on the challenge of Priscilla,