ONE of the most talked-about shows to hit the Civic stage is back by popular demand — and the stars of the show can’t wait.
Reprising the drag queen roles in Priscilla Queen of the Desert: The Musical with which they first wowed audiences with in 2017 will be Ben Loy as Tick, Matthew Roddis as Felicia and Ashley Booker as Bernadette.
The trio haven’t been on stage together in four years or in a rehearsal room since the start of the pandemic, so excitement was running high at their first run-through last Monday.
“It was the most amazing night,” said Ash.
“Just the three of us and the musical director, Matt Simons.
“To just go and rehearse and do something that we have not done for 16 months was amazing.
“The hour-and-a-half felt like two minutes.”
The camptastic musical, which features dancefloor favourites including Its Raining Men, I Will Survive, and Hot Stuff, features more than 70 costume changes — and that’s just for the three main leads.
It was — and still is — Rotherham Musical Theatre Company’s most expensive and daring production to date.
“It’s going to be just as good, if not better,” said Ash.
Since Priscilla last rolled into town, Ben and Ash have starred in Rent and Legally Blonde together, while Matt has been working on cruise ships.
Membership at RMTC has changed, meaning the trio had to audition again.
“I don’t know what we would have done if we didn’t get the parts,” said Ash. “All three of us were desperate to play these roles again.
“Bernadette — she’s real, she’s like my best mate.”
Priscilla’s first outing in Rotherham four years ago is still talked about to this day.
Ash added: “The director, Dee Bennie-Marshall, does lots of shows at the Civic and people are always asking her: ‘When are you doing Priscilla again?’.
“The theatre was also desperate to have it back.”
In my review of the show in 2017 described it as “next level” and “Broadway standard” and the opening night also gave me my first Civic standing ovation experience.
I had to mention RMTC’s efforts again last year after watching the professional production visit the Sheffield Lyceum in March.
The clunky Jason Donovan-backed show, starring Strictly Come Dancing winner Joe McFadden, wasn’t a patch on the am-dram version and left me cold.
Asked if he could tell how well RMTC’s production was going to be received, Ash said: “We knew it was going to be our best show and people would enjoy it — but the love and just how much people embraced Priscilla was incredible.”
The outrageous wigs and outfits will be “bigger and better” this year, said Ash, who has been performing since the age of 12.
This is the longest he has been away from the stage and he said seeing the arts industry take a battering over the pandemic had been hard for him.
He said: “I really hope people go out there — I don’t care if it’s the West End, the Civic, the Lyric, a town hall — and if there’s a show on, go and support it!”
When Priscilla’s five-night run begins on November 9, it will have been 20 months since Ash was last on the stage.
“It will be a mixture of nerves and excitement,” he said. “I’m nervous before every show, whether it’s a review show, a panto or a musical as big as Priscilla.
“The day I stop being nervous is the day I hang up my heels.”