Wow, it was wonderful, outrageous, funny and at times moving and very real! A great Show-Biz hit of a show. It was clear we were in for an evening of brash fun and laughter when a big smiling Aussie voice boomed out at us to tell us to turn off our mobile phones etc. This was followed by a great, opening intro from the faultless off-stage orchestra under the up-beat and precise supervision of arranger Stephen ‘Spud’ Murphy. And we are into the magic; the whole of the auditorium becomes the biggest glitter ball you could imagine. We are all surrounded by sparkling lights. Nick Richings’ lighting design is another star of this highly polished performance.
The curtain goes up and the three divas come down from the sky. This trio, Lisa Marie Holmes, Laura Mansell and Catherine Mort are all in fantastic voice and as well as their own zesty singing, at times they also provide voices for the main characters. As they welcome us to come ‘DOWN TOWN’ the company of, mainly lads in female dress and almost undress give us our first glimpse of high-kicking and fast-moving dancing. After a short while we see a man ’Tick’ in a thick overcoat standing in the middle of them. He removes the coat, Jason Donovan strips to his pants, dons sparkly tights and a bra and he’s ‘Mitzi’ and joins in the energetic dancing. As well as being up for all the flamboyance the show demands he gives a totally compelling performance. From him and from his two ‘lady’ companions, Adam Bailey’s Felicia and Simon Green’s Bernadette, beneath all the wonderful flamboyance, we get many moments of totally sensitivity and believability.
But it’s the brilliant absurdity, vivacity and colour that is the main stay of the show as the pink bus ‘Priscilla’ battles its way from Sydney, through the Australian desert to Alice Springs. Remarkable things happen to them on the way, including a hard scene of homophobia. We get a real understanding of the need these men have for their commitment to their other selves. But mostly they just dance and have a good time and give us a very good time too. Simon Green, again another super, brazen performance as transsexual Bernadette. Equally and delightfully enjoyable is the acrobatic and vivacious account we get from Adam Green’s Felicia. Together and separately they can each command the stage and get us caring for them, concerned that there is a successful outcome to their story.
They do get there, much to the thanks of Bob a motor mechanic. Philips Childs, this former Stoke-on-Trent six-former gives us a totally convincing guy from the Aussi outback. He falls for Bernadette’s charms but just manages to stay in his own skin.
The trio celebrate the strong bond that has struck up between them, telling us from the top of Ayers Rock that ‘WE BELONG’ together. It is their professional precision which is a strong characteristic of every member of this bubbling cast that gets our neck hairs tingling and give us all a warm feeling inside as we leave the theatre drunk with exuberance.
Must also mention the small boy, Benji, who we meet late in the show. He is a great performer his scene and song with Jason Donovan is another of the really beautiful movements of the evening. Two young actors share the role, Logon Burrows and Thomas Ireson. I am sure they are equally splendid.
Wales Millennium Centre until January 16.