Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Priscilla Does West Palm Beach

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“Priscilla” Struts His or Her Stuff at Kravis Center

By Skip Sheffield

The extremely colorful, disco-flavored, drag musical comedy “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” continues its merry run through Sunday, April 28 at Kravis Center in West Palm Beach.
“Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” is one of the few movies I have never seen, but I do know it has an ardent cult following. I thought you had to be a fan of drag shows to enjoy “Priscilla,” but I was wrong. This is a spectacularly visual show for any sexual or political persuasion.
Both the 1994 MGM movie and the stage musical by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott are specifically set in Australia, with all the accents and details that entails. Australia is a rugged place with tough characters and a forbidding Outback, which makes staging a flouncy female impersonator show in the middle of nowhere all the more absurd.
Wade McCollum, Scott Willis and Bryan West are Tick (Mitzi), Bernadette and Adam (Felicia), the three stars of a costume drag show in Sydney, Australia. When the fellows (girls) get a booking way out in the desert town of Alice Springs, Tick sees it as a chance to have a reunion with his long ago-liaison Marion (Christy Faber) and the six-year-old son Benji (Shane Davis, Will B.) he has never met.
The nominal plot is the least important part of “Priscilla.” Far more important are the incredible costumes by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner; the magic, color-changing bus called Priscilla, designed by Bryan Thomson, and the thumping, thundering 1970s and 1980s greatest-hit disco songs by the likes of Madonna, Tina Turner, Cyndi Lauper, Dianne Warwick, Gloria Gaynor and even John Denver.
Adding to the spectacle are three airborne Divas: Emily Afton, Bre Jackson and Brit West, each a powerhouse in her own right.
Yes, there are real woman such as the Divas, a transsexual Bernadette, a gay-friendly mechanic named Bob (Joe Hart) and assorted cross-dressing gay and straight men.
It’s a heady, disorienting brew punctuated by one showcase song number after the other.
The mood is set with “It’s Raining Men” and continues with an amazing Tina Turner impersonation by a character known as Miss Understanding (Nik Alexzander) and the funniest rendition of the sappy ballad “MacArthur Park” you will ever see or hear.
Funny? Check. Tuneful? Check. Colorful? Double-check. Meaningful? Well sort of, if you feel in an ideal world even the most dramatically-opposed characters can get along.
Wouldn’t that be nice?
Tickets are $35 and up. Call 800-572-8471 or go to www.kravis.org.


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