THEATRE REVIEWS - Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Jason Donovan (centre) and some of the other cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert
Jason Donovan (centre) and some of the other cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

IT’S been called the best feel-good show since Mama Mia. So on its second trip to Manchester, this zany musical with mighty dollops of glittery lip-gloss has a lot to live up to.

So just who is Priscilla? Surprise, surprise, it’s an old bus which takes the show’s main characters, two drag queens and a trans-sexual to the middle of the Australian outback. As you can imagine, there’s much soul searching – and a musical laugh around every corner.

It’s true, this musical is as camp as Christmas but its strength is that at its heart there’s a brilliant story of family life which originally came to life in a film of the same name with Terence Stamp.

Big name in this over-the-top glitzy extravaganza is an actor familiar to the Manchester stage ... Jason Donovan who in drag, is almost impossible to recognise. It matters not a jot.

And so the Australian odd-balls head off to Alice Springs searching for love and friendship and get quite a lot more than them bargained for.

Fantasy mixes with reality as the old bus chugs on its way to Alice Springs where an extravagant concert is planned. It’s only half way through the sweltering journey that two of the other “gentlemen” are told that Tick (Jason) who now bats for the other team has both a wife and son.

The eventual meeting between gay drag queen Tickand his six year old son is funny and touching.

This is a full-on musical and something of an emotional roller-coaster as the friends love each other whilst stabbing them in the back.

Magnificently professional, choc-a-bloc with all-encompassing action and fun and quite literally bursts from the stage with a host of familiar numbers ... Don’t Leave Me This Way, I will Survive, Hot Stuff and many more.

Palace Theatre, Manchester, until February 22.