Why Desert Ticks all the boxes for Duncan

Blue's Duncan James as Tick in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
Blue's Duncan James as Tick in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
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There’s something of a case of life imitating art for Blue’s Duncan James.

The boyband heartthrob is about to hit the stage in musical Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, as Tick – a gay man struggling to balance family life with his sexuality.

And it’s a situation the singer can appreciate all too well – in fact the role seems to have given him the final push to make a definitive statement about his own sexuality.

In 2009, Duncan came out as bisexual.

Now, talking about Priscilla, he goes one step further and happily 
labels himself as ‘a gay man’.

“This is such a great show,” he said. “I grew up doing musical theatre and have done 
Chicago and Legally Blonde in the West End, so to do another I’m really excited.

“This part takes me out of my comfort zone; I can relate to this character with a kid struggling with his sexuality, wanting to be a good father.

“From being a gay man with a child, you have 
issues in your head. When Tick would have lived, in Australia in the Eighties, it wasn’t something that was talked about, too.

He has a big secret and I can relate to a lot of the plot.”

Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, at Manchester Opera House from Thursday, is an uplifting tale of three friends crossing the outback in a battered old bus as they search for love and friendship, featuring outrageous costumes and disco hits such as It’s Raining Men, Say A Little Prayer and Hot Stuff.

The singer will be strutting his stuff in heels, dresses and full-on make up, as Tick goes drag in the show – with ‘nothing left to the imagination’.

But he’s not the only Blue boy treading the boards at the moment; Simon Webbe and Anthony Costa are both in musicals.

Anthony’s in rehearsals for a new version of The Who’s rock opera Tommy at Blackpool Opera House next month.

And these roles are proof of the band’s talents, according to Duncan: “We wouldn’t be cast if we didn’t have the ability,” he said.

“They are demanding roles and it’s really nice that there is a lot of talent in Blue.

“We never mimed. We always sing live. We never needed autotune.

“In musical theatre there’s no magic button, if you can’t sing [through illness] your understudy goes on.”

Even with the stage roles he can count to his credit so far, Duncan’s happy to get help – even if it is from one of the best in the business.

“Bonnie Langford was round for Sunday lunch – she’s one of the iconic musical theatre actresses, literally has done it all,” he said, as if she needs introduction. “She was Roxie in Chicago when I played Billy Flynn.

“She was teaching me how to bevel [a dance position to flatter the body] in my kitchen.

“You can’t get more showbizzy than that. It was hilarious when my mum walked in.”

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