If there’s a sequin shortage in Norfolk, I know where to point the finger: Sound Ideas latest production has an avalanche of sparkle, confetti, and everything glittery.
The jukebox musical that is Priscilla Queen of the Desert is packed full of familiar toe-tapping songs, from songbook standards like A Fine Romance to disco classics like It’s Raining Men and not a little sprinkling of Kylie Minogue’s greatest hits.
The story follows two drag queens and a transgender woman as they journey across the Australian Outback from Sydney to Alice Springs on the way to meet one of the number’s son for the first time, in a tour bus that they have named Priscilla.
Based on the Oscar winning Australian film, the musical version packs in the tunes alongside the original story of cattiness, insecurity, homophobia, and – ultimately – acceptance.
It’s a joyous production full of fun and mostly delivered at a startling pace, under Dan Smith’s direction.
The core trio is represented by Alex Green, Matt Squance, and Chris Nicoll. Green and Nicoll excel, with the former clearly relishing the chance to doll up, wield a whip, do some pole dancing and generally camp it up. Squance’s vocals seemed to be suffering from some first night nerves, but he found his feet a little more towards the end.
They are backed by a trio of sparkling divas with increasingly complex headgear – Holly Graham, Emily Sidnell, and Tina Dalzell power through the book with strong vocals and great stage presence. Graham’s turn as showgirl with a particular talent with ping-pong balls is deliciously staged and perfectly executed.
Jon Bennett leads the supporting cast as Bob, an open-minded mechanic, but there are some fantastic performances across the ensemble that almost eclipse the leads at times.
Sound Ideas rarely shy away from a challenge and the sheer number of costumes in this show is mindboggling. It is a real visual feast, and Susan Smith and Vicki Sidnell have done a sterling job in ensuring that the many quick changes go smoothly.
Jon Ireson’s set is almost as impressive, with the rotating Priscilla tour bus – bedecked with animal print, LEDs, and an increasingly busy interior – is brilliantly executed.
There is just so much to enjoy in this performance – you’d need to have a heart of stone not to leave with a smile on your face. Even then, it would probably still be covered in confetti.
- Priscilla Queen of the Desert continues at Norwich Playhouse until July 10