Priscilla, Queen of the Desert review: Tale spreads a rainbow of feel-good fun

The cast of Blackpool Operatic Players' Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
The cast of Blackpool Operatic Players' Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
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With two drag queens, a faded star, a long lost son and a wardrobe brighter than an explosion in a crayon factory - this Australian desert road trip is anything but dry.

When middle-aged drag queen Tick Belrose (Rob Baldock) gets a call from his estranged wife about the son he hasn’t seen in years, he packs up the sequins and decides to give fatherhood a try.

The cast of Blackpool Operatic Players' Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.'From left, Rob Baldock, Reece Oliver and Neil Townsend as Tick, Adam/Felicia and Bernadette

The cast of Blackpool Operatic Players' Priscilla Queen Of The Desert.'From left, Rob Baldock, Reece Oliver and Neil Townsend as Tick, Adam/Felicia and Bernadette

With friends ballroom veteran Bernadette (Neil Townsend) and newcomer Adam (Reece Oliver), he embarks on a 1,700 mile road trip from Syndey to Alice Springs in ‘Priscilla’, a budget Barbie bus, to meet young Benji – and sing a few Kylie songs along the way.

Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert, from the Blackpool Operatic Players, is two hours of honest, rainbow-coloured fun and an example of a jukebox musical done right.

The principals embrace their misfit roles with enthusiasm and a convincing Australian twang.

Rob Baldock plays a sympathetic Tick, while Neil Townsend’s world-weary Bernadette shows strong shades of Terence Stamp’s praised performance from the 1994 film of the same name.

Former Funny Girl Reece Oliver shines as Adam, an outlandish drama queen with a dream of climbing the famous King’s Canyon in heels and a tiara.

Don Green is pleasing as Bob, Bernadette’s rough-around-the-edges love interest, and 10-year-old Freddie Howson, who plays Benji, gives an admirable vocal performance.

From the vulgar jokes of comedienne Miss Understanding (Neal Sandwell), to the ensemble’s final show-stealing medley, Priscilla wears its heart on its sleeve. The effort put in by cast and musicians alike is enormous and pays off in spades, spreading an infectious happiness as wide as a rainbow. By the end, it will be hard to spot a face without a smile.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, directed by Howard G. Raw, will run at the Grand Theatre until Saturday.