Review: While not exactly gold, 'Priscilla' glitters delightfully
As the opening song proclaims, “It's Raining Men” this week at the Benedum.
But the ab-fabulous men of the musical “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” are not your average guys.
Their work clothes feature items that include a thigh-high dress made up of tangerine and magenta flip-flops, a headdress of ostrich feathers in eight shades of pink, a demure chiffon dress or an oversize cupcake with brightly colored polka dots.
Not everyone has the bodies or the courage to wear these outrageously colorful and imaginative outfits. But they're a perfect fit for the drag queens who populate this remarkably upbeat and fast-paced musical.
The show at the Benedum Center continues through March as an offering of the PNC Broadway Across America — Pittsburgh subscription series.
A stage adaptation of the 1994 Australian film threads a diverse selection of disco and jukebox hits from other eras (“I Love the Nightlife,” “Material Girl,” “I Will Survive”) and an oldie classic or two (“A Fine Romance”) around a road-trip story of two drag queens and a transsexual on a voyage of personal discovery across the Australian hinterlands.
Brian Thomson speeds their journey with his inspired design of the bus that transports them and serves as a brightly illuminated revolving backdrop for the show.
The three leads and their stage personas — Wade McCollum's conflicted Tick/Mitzi, Bryan West's bitchy, acid-tongued Adam/Felicia and Scott Willis's assertive but tender Bernadette have complexities. McCollum's Tick makes the greatest journey. But it's Willis's Bernadette who most commands our interest and sympathies. Joe Hart's Bob also provides a strong, believable presence.
A huge ensemble of men and women shift from drab and intolerant boot-wearing townspeople to fabulous high-heeled showgirls and back again at the drop of an eyelash.
The show contains some heartwarming and uplifting moments and makes a statement or two about tolerance and acceptance — of others and oneself.
It also makes the case that if you don't or can't fit into the ordinary world, there's nothing wrong with pursuing happiness in a glittery and glamorous self-created universe where you do feel comfortable.
As you might suspect, the show's content and humor is guaranteed to offend or outrage some with its profanity and sexual references that range from slyly suggestive quips that may fly over many heads to clearly understandable words or gestures. Some of the costumes are skimpy or emphasize male or female body parts — real and artificial. While there's no nudity, the show displays plenty of well-toned bare male chests and shapely, shaven male legs. If any of that makes you uncomfortable, don't go.
For the rest of us, there's little here you haven't seen in cable fiction series or episodes of “Ru Paul's Drag Race.”
What you do see is extremely well done.
Costume designers Tim Chapel and Lizzy Gardiner excel at devising a succession of elaborate, fanciful, witty and thoroughly eye-popping costumes and inventing over-the-top wigs and towering headdresses.
What's nearly as impressive is the shape-shifting speed with which performers transform from simple street clothes to drag-star outfits complete with bright blue or green lip glitter.
It's most notable in “The Floor Show” number which incorporates four distinct changes that take place as a curtain sweeps over the performers in mere seconds.
While there's more style than substance to the proceedings, it doesn't affect your enjoyment of the show. These men are girls who just wanna have fun and who encourage you to join them.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Cole is simply not good enough for Pirates
- Opening season away from home may be a good thing, Penguins say
- State closing Zelienople treatment facility after allegations of child sexual abuse
- New-look Steelers secondary is gaining some cohesion
- Penguins recall Maatta in time for season opener in Dallas
- Prudhomme, Louisiana chef who popularized Cajun food, dies at 75
- Armstrong County Jail warden resigns
- Pirates no match for Cubs, Arrieta in wild-card loss
- Former Pittsburgh mayoral candidate sentenced to prison for bogus 911 calls
- Grandparents’ bids for child custody imperiled
- Murrysville council sends draft of fracking changes on for comment, modifies setback