There is a celebratory feel at London’s Palace theatre this week, where Priscilla Queen Of The Desert The Musical is celebrating not just its Costume Design win at the Laurence Olivier Awards, but also its first birthday in the West End.
Visitors to the theatre yesterday were treated to specially designed Priscilla cupcakes to celebrate the occasion, leading one witty audience member to dub the colourful, camp musical Priscilla Queen Of The Dessert.
The musical stage adaptation of the cult Australian film about two drag queens and a transsexual making a road trip opened in London last March. New cast members, including Don Gallagher and John Bowe, have recently joined a refreshed company, but original cast member Jason Donovan remains in the leading role of Tick.
“How many times in a career do you get to open a show like this?” he asked, talking to Official London Theatre following last night’s performance. “I’ve been lucky with Joseph [And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat] and this.”
“I’m proud to be here for a year,” the former pop star continued. “A year on the West End is pretty good for any show… and we get standing ovations every night. It’s an infectious, fun show, what’s there not to like about it?”
Donovan, whose outfit to cycle home was distinctly less ostentatious than the Laurence Olivier Award-winning costumes he wears on stage, heaped praise on the show’s award-winning designers – Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner – and confirmed that the new cast are “doing a great job”.
“It takes a long time to settle in; once you think you’ve got the dialogue, there’s the quick changes,” he sympathised. He will only be appearing with the current cast until 29 May, when he leaves the fabulous frocks, wonderful wigs and outrageous outfits behind to join the cast of War Of The Worlds on tour. “I’ll be sad,” he said, “but I think it will be time to move on; 500 performances of one show is a lot to do.”
When he does emerge from Priscilla’s purple bus for the final time, the production team would be well advised to keep a close eye on the clothes rack. “There’s a few costumes I’d like to nick,” Donovan smirked. The sight of him riding home dressed as one third of the Sydney Opera House would probably make it worth the loss.