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The acting and accents aren't the greatest, but fine singing voices will have you humming and singing the retro tunes hours after you leave the theatre.

Theatre Review (Singapore): ‘Priscilla, Queen of the Desert’ by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott

Resorts World Theatre in Sentosa is presenting Priscilla Queen of the Desert (PQD) from 16th to 26th October 2014.

PQD is the musical retelling of the 1994 Australian movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. The movie was written by Stephan Elliott, whilst the musical was written by Elliot and Allan Scott. Both tell the tale of two drag queens, Tick (Michael Williams) and Adam (Red Concepcion), and a transgender woman, Bernadette (Jon Santos), who travel across the Australian wilderness on a bus named Priscilla to perform at a remote resort. On the way they come face to face with situations that ultimately influence them in various ways.

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The original musical debuted in Australia in 2006, so whilst its focus on alternative lifestyles might be a bit passé and tired (although we still hear of gay bashing in this day and age!), the songs in this production will have you tapping your feet. From “It’s Raining Men” and “Go West”, to “True Colours” and “I Will Survive”, as well as “Boogie Wonderland” and “We Belong” in the second half of the musical, if you grew up with music from the ’80s and ’90s, you’ll be hard pressed to stop yourself from singing along.

Williams, Concepcion and Santos are a bit stiff and wooden when they are delivering their lines, and more relaxed performances would have been better appreciated. However all three men, along with the supporting actors and ensemble, prove they have very good singing voices that make these well-known songs resonate even more.

The set though isn’t consistent; at times it is well decorated and transports you to the place of action, but at other times the stage seems bare and uninteresting.

Also the accents of the three leads are problematic as none of them sound genuinely Australian. What is even more confusing is when their Filipino accents creep in, along with what sound like American and British inflections. A few members of the supporting cast do manage an Australian accent, but some accents tend to come out as simply too overpowering rendering the audience unable to understand what was said.

Having said that, Priscilla is good fun that will ensure you’ll be humming and singing the retro tunes hours after you leave the theatre.

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About Sharmila Melissa Yogalingam

Ex-professor, Ex-phd student, current freelance critic, writer and filmmaker.

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