MUST SEEREVIEWSTheatre ReviewsTom Williams

Priscilla: Queen of the Desert – the musical

Book by Stephen Elliott & Allan Scott.

Based on the film.

Directed by Derek Van Barham & David Zak.

Music direction by Robert Ollis.

Choreography by Jon Martinez.

At Pride Arts Center – The Broadway, Chicago.

Dazzlingly stunning feel-good musical is a fine way to open a new theatre venue!

Priscilla: Queen of the Desert – the musical is a fabulous work of art that is the first major hit of 2017! The creatives at Pride Films & Plays, under the leadership and creative chops of David Zak and co-director Deek Van Barham have mounted a stunningly heart-felt musical version of the 1994 cult film of the same name. This is NOT the 2013 National Tour that played at the Auditorium Theatre in a bland by-the-numbers tired production. No, Pride’s Priscilla: Queen of the Desert -the musical is a sweet, energetic and superbly danced, sung and acted musical long on heart and peopled by empathetic characters. Filled with stunning show-stopping dance numbers by the creatively innovating choreographer Jon Martinez with a peppy orchestra lead by Robert Ollis, Priscilla is the fun musical needed  to fight the Chicago winter and the horrors of a Trump presidency! Add the amazing costumes designed by  John Nasca (the best I’ve seen in a non-Equity storefront theatre) and Priscilla has the ingredients of a major hit.

Like most fabulous musicals, the principal players and the chorus and ensemble all must be well cast. They are  here. Priscilla: Queen of the Desert -the musical is the heartwarming and inspirational adventure of three drag queens from Sidney bent on a life altering journey of  adventure to the Australian outback. Tick (Jordan Phelps), Adam (Luke Mierdiercks), and Bernadette (the fabulous Honey West -the first time a trans actress has played Bernadette) hop on a battered old bus (named: Priscilla) in search of love, friendship and self-discovery. Along the way their adventures allows them to find more than they ever could have ever dreamed of.  While traveling, they poke fun, crack wise and rehearse their drag show.

Filled with a dazzling array of costumes (for both the boys, girls and drag queens with kudos to the backstage dressers) we experience a hit parade of disco dance favorites including “It’s Raining Men,” ‘I Will Survive,” “Hot Stuff,” “Go West,” “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” and “I Love the Nightlife.” You’d be hard pressed to see finer ensemble dancing than this ensemble exhibits here!

Anchored by  a Greek Chorus of Divas (Jill Sesso, Tuesdai B. Perry and Rebecca Coleman) that sing both background an accompaniment,  the vocals are charming and well executed. But the real stars are the three drag queens lead by Honey West as the aging drag queen Bernadette. West is the heart of this production – the love her.

Priscilla: Queen of the Desert -the musical is two hours of flamboyant dance, rich comedy and an adventurous story  that resonates with audiences while we enjoy the toe-tapping dance numbers. To have fun, laugh, and escape form reality get to the Pride Arts Center and take in Priscilla: Queen of the Desert -the musical. You’ll leave smiling! This is the first major “must see’ show of 2017!

Highly Recommended

Tom Williams

Date Reviewed: January 17, 2017

Jeff Recommended

For more info checkout the Priscilla: Queen of the Desert -the musical page at

At Pride Arts Center, 4139 N.Broadway, Chicago, IL, call 1-800-737-0984,, tickets $40  for reserved seats, $30 for general admission, student/senior discounts available, Thursday- Saturdays at 7:30 pm, Sundays at 3:30 pm, additional performances Wednesdays Feb 1 & 8 at 7:30 pm, running time is 2 hours 15 minutes with intermission, through February 12, 2017.