I SET off for the Civic feeling slightly flat and “Novemberish” but left the theatre feeling thoroughly uplifted.
That’s Priscilla for you — two-plus hours of great music, impressive acting and more than a few naughty jokes. Not to mention massively impressive costumes.
The Rotherham Musical Theatre Company evening got off to a poignant start, with the announcement that the week’s performances would be dedicated to RMTC costume manager, secretary and front of house manager Hilary Pratt, who died recently.
Returning by popular demand, this is the company’s first show back since the start of the pandemic and it was clear that the cast loved being able to tread the boards again.
Written by Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott and adapted from the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the show follows the journey of transsexual Bernadette and drag artists Tick and Felicia, who travel from Sydney to Alice Springs in Priscilla the bus.
Played respectively — and marvellously — by Ashley Booker, Ben Loy and Matthew Roddis, the trio make the journey with adventures and double entendres aplenty.
And the music is definitely also a huge star of the show.
With major hits like It’s Raining Men, I Will Survive and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun ringing out, the audience was soon clapping along enthusiastically.
The show moves at a lively pace and, as well as the stunning costumes, there are great sets and a stream of clever one-liners.
But nestled among the general fun, glitz and glamour are sobering moments reminding us that homophobia can rear its ugly head at any time.
That said, the show, directed and choreographed by Dee Bennie-Marshall and with Matthew Symonds as musical director, is massively fun and has many memorable scenes — let’s just say that I will never look at ping pong balls in quite the same way again.
The cast is excellent across the board and the dancing is a highly enjoyable element of the production.
The three Divas, played by Grace English, Kirsty Taylor and Ellie Simpson, act as a form of continuity and keep the action rattling alone in fine manner.
And as well as more seasoned RMTC performers, such as Rachel Marshall, the show features younger cast members, such as Alfie Houghton, who confidently takes on the role of young Benji.
If you like your jokes earthy and your music uplifting, this is definitely the show for you.
And I defy anyone to stay in their seat as the rousing finale brings the performance to an end.
Priscilla: Queen of the Desert is at Rotherham Civic Theatre until Saturday