by Tracey Paleo, Gia On The Move

Sentimental drag…who’dda thunk…

Marqell Edward Clayton, Lyle Colby Mackston, John Paul Batista and Jamie Pierce. Photo Credit: Matthew Brian Denman

Warning: This review may be unapologetically hyperbolic and overly sappy. But I can assure you, Celebration Theatre‘s Los Angeles theater premiere of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a ride you’re gonna wanna take!

Jessica Hanna directs an unabashedly hilarious and seriously sentimental glam-musical, with nostalgically chic choreography by Roman Pantoja, and light-tripping musical direction by Jennifer Lin, that had the audience at precision levels of teary-eyed-ness, fab, funk, spaz, boogie, (I was singing all the tunes in the back row- YES IT WAS ME!) and up for a thunderous standing ovation even before the actors could go off stage to come back out for a final bow.

It was a bedazzling, uptempo, blast!

Based on the Oscar-winning hit film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the musical features 70’s classics like, It’s Raining Men (The Weather Girls), I Will Survive (Gloria Gaynor), and I Love The Nightlife (Alicia Bridges). Set in Australia, Priscilla follows three drag queens, Tic (Mario Burrell), Bernadette (Tad Coughenour) and Adam/Felicia (Lyle Colby Mackston) on a rather dangerous outback bus drive that Tic has pitched as a comeback tour but is really a secret quest to meet the son he’s never seen.

Tad Coughenour, Lyle Colby Mackson and Mario Burrell. Photo credit: Matthew Brian Denman

If you were even considering this less-camp-more-relationship production, you’ll have to wait until the extension. PQD, as of opening night, is completely sold out for the entire run.

However, they will be extending, and mostly likely twice. Yay for you if you don’t have your ticket yet. But hurry!

This beyond lip sync production really showcases the range of emotional and physical abilities of the entire main cast and gives the entire ensemble room for plenty of its own amusing ostentatiousness. Above all, the story, the relationships are so beautifully front and center of the performance, the depth of the content is as deeply moving as it is colorful – in every way.

No stomach punches or surprises. No awkward moments. No glitches. There is a definitive symmetry that keeps the show completely smooth throughout with sing and dance-alongs that anyone growing up in the Shake Your Groove Thing generation will recognize and love.

Highly Recommended

Book by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott, based on the Latent Image/Specific Films Motion Picture Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., presented in special arrangement with Theatrical Rights Worldwide.

Directed by Jessica Hanna
Produced by Stephen Soucy and Jay Marcus
Lighting design by Brandon Baruch
Costume design by Allison Dillard
Hair and Makeup design by Byron J. Batista
Sound Design by Rebecca Kessin
Properties Design by Michael O’Hara
Karen Osbourne is the Production Manager

Featuring: Tad Coughenour, Mario Burrell, Lyle Colby Mackston, Markesha Chatfield, Katie Self, Andrea Somera,Gina Torrecilla, George Chavez, Jack Brody and Nick Brody (sharing the role of Benji) along with ensemble cast members John Paul Batista, Jamie Pierce, and Marquell Clayton. Understudies are Dekontee Tucrkile, Miki Holmes and Cameron Jamarr Davis.

Photo (above) by Matthew Brian Denman: Tad Coughenour, Lyle Colby Mackston and Mario Burrell star in the Celebration production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert at Celebration Theatre.