Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

priscilla queen

Picture: Robert Yardley

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Lichfield Operatic Society


Three drag queens, the Australian outback and a bus. Throw in a slew of disco classics and a glitter curtain, and you have Priscilla Queen of the Desert. The latest roof raising production from Lichfield Operatic Society at the Lichfield Garrick Theatre.

Based on the 90’s cult classic of the same name, Priscilla tells the story of Sydney based drag queen Tick as he convinces his two friends and fellow queens, Felicia and Bernadette, to join him aboard a trip through the notorious wilderness of the outback to perform at a casino in Alice Springs.

Much to Bernadette’s dismay, they will be making the journey by bus. A bus named Priscilla, who just so happens to come equipped with a giant sparkly stiletto on the roof, you know in case any of the trio fancy sitting atop for an impromptu performance of “Sempre Libera”, which lucky for us we get from Adam Gregory as Felicia in a hilarious lip sync for the gods moment.

Which brings us to the central trio at the heart of this camptastic romp. And there really is immense heart from Patrick Jervis (Tick/Mitzi) Adam Gregory (Adam/Felicia) and Pete Beck (Bernadette).

Thanks to a certain competitive TV show, drag and queer culture has become so much more visible as an art form, now finding it’s way to the amateur theatre circuit. It would be easy for the three leads to fall back on stereotypes and gimmicks, but I was so pleased to see, under the direction of James Pugh, genuinely respectful performances from all three.

From the tender hearted scenes between Tick and Benji (Connor Orchid) to the adorable blossoming romance between Bernadette and Bob the mechanic (Chris Stanley) and the ongoing struggle of Adam as an out and proud gay man.

Don’t get me wrong they also get to flex some serious comedy muscle thanks to some outrageously bitchy barbs but all this helps to paint a beautifully coloured picture of their friendship.

There is a second fabulous trio that also deserve a mention: the Divas, played by Chelsea Regan, Lauren Orgill and Vanessa Blake. In professional productions of the show these singing sisters usually fly in and out of scenes like an angelic greek chorus.


The decision was made here not to have them fly, but what they lack in aerial spectacle they make up for with stunning vocals and slick routines, which is supported well by an energetic and enthusiastic ensemble.

There are a whopping thirty musical numbers in Priscilla, a mammoth task for any creative team. But thanks to Musical Director David Easto and Choreographer Charlotte Jervis not one of the numbers is predictable or repetitive. The band sounded awesome throughout and must have had a ball blasting disco hit after hit, as much as the ensemble clearly had dancing to them.

Not everyone in an amateur company is an experienced dancer but the ensemble clearly put in the work to be able to perform the energetic choreography with confidence and style. Not an easy feat when you are dressed as a giant paintbrush or a cupcake (shoutout to two of my favourite numbers in the show!)

Absurd costumes aside, the technical aspects of the show must be so demanding. But if they are, the cast and crew never let us see them sweat. With smooth scene changes that include getting from club to bar to casino and of course getting Priscilla on and off stage. The costumes like all things in Priscilla are go big or go home. So all credit to Suzanne Harris and her wardrobe team who I imagine are working frantically backstage getting the many willing volunteers of the male ensemble in and out of full drag.

There is some lovely support by the supporting cast. Chris Stanley as mechanic Bob was so earnest in his support of former Les Girls Bernadette that I doubt anyone was too upset with the demise of his marriage to wife Cynthia played by Shu Sachdev. Her number “Pop Muzic” is the one designed to have audiences roaring with laughter and Shu’s was no exception. In fact it was just one of many moments that audiences were either in hysterics or dancing in their seats. Such is the joy of this production.

This was my first visit to watch LOS in action and I must say a huge congratulations to everyone involved in this wonderful production. I can’t wait to come back and see next year's performance.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert plays at Lichfield Garrick until Saturday 24th September.

Janine Henderson


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