CLOC Music Theatre’s production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert opens on Friday 30th April 2021, after being postponed twice in 2020. After many rehearsals and catch ups via Zoom, they were finally able to get back into the rehearsal room, and the cast are ready to shake their groove things!!
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is a musical adapted from Stephen Elliott’s 1994 film “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert”. The musical tells the story of two drag queens and a transgender woman, a lavender bus called Priscilla, and a road trip across the centre of Australia, and the friendships, homophobia and uniquely Australian characters that they meet along the way.
Theatre People recently sat down for a chat with the three fabulous stars of the show, Lee Threadgold who plays Bernadette, Angel Dolejší who plays Tick and Daniel Baker who is appearing as Felicia, and got the low down on their characters, the show, and the heels!
When asked what attracted him to auditioning for Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Dolejší told us “To be honest, I don’t know how many lead roles are really out there for me that sit so solidly in my wheelhouse, but Tick is one of them. I’m not that guy who is going to audition for every am-dram role unless I feel it’s something that is going to be the right fit. Tick feels like that for me right now – who knows when or if that will happen again?’
‘I went to dance school where the original cast rehearsed’ says Baker, “and I remember sneaking a look and thinking “God I’d love to be in that show!” and then when I saw the show I just loved it – I thought it was such a clever adaptation of the film. So, when CLOC announced Priscilla, I just had to be a part of it!”
When discussing the original film, Threadgold reminisced about the first time he saw it at the Odeon Haymarket in London. “I loved it – it just took me to a real high! Always being one to stay to the end of the final credits, I loved not missing the bit most people would have missed back then – the ‘blow up’ floating down on business men in that Japanese garden for no apparent reason! Oh, and of course, I had a HUGE ‘Neighbours’ crush on Mr Pearce.”
Guy Pearce seemed to be a running theme, with Baker remembering his first viewing. “I was 14 and not out and my Dad let me rent it from the video store, (for some reason he thought I would like it, so strange). I was blown away; excited, confronted and very curious. And Guy Pearce – what a babe!”.
When speaking about Bernadette, Tick and Felicia and their own moments of vulnerability during the show, we asked how they connected and related to their stories.
“As a young gay man, when you first come out and find your ‘tribe’, you have such a feeling of invincibility and can forget how unfriendly the world can be until you’re confronted with it,” says Baker. “I’ve certainly had experiences that have left me feeling lonely and a bit scared- and that’s when you need your chosen family the most.”
“I think playing a character that isn’t too dissimilar from myself has been a really nice way to kind of get back into the game as far as performing goes. It’s been nice to re find my feet with Tick after such a long time on the sidelines”, Dolejší replied.
Discussing a specific moment in the rehearsal period which allowed him to tap deeper into his character, Dolejší reflected “If we wanted to get bashed, we could have just stayed in Sydney,” It is a line in the script that really takes me back to living behind Oxford Street in the early 2000’s. It’s one of the few moments in the book that I find to be really unapologetically honest, and it helped me kind of get to know Tick a little more”.
Presenting such well known and loved characters can often be challenging. When speaking to Baker about his experience with this, he stated “I think the greatest challenge is trusting that you know the character and not letting other actors’ choices dictate your own. You have to bring your own interpretation and experiences to the role.”
And when asked how are they were coping with the experience of wearing heels? “Like a drag queen to lashes, lippy and sequins!” exclaimed Threadgold. “I am very comfortable in heels – the higher the better!” agreed Baker.
To sum up why you should buy a ticket to see CLOC’s Priscilla, Baker stated “It’s a fabulous, pink, sparkly rollercoaster with all the disco hits you could want. The best way to get back into the theatre!”
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert runs from 30 April to 22 May at The National Theatre Melbourne in St Kilda. For tickets and information, go to www.cloc.org.au
Article written by Kelly-Louise Austin.
Photo credit: Ben Fon.