Disco Drag

Priscilla Queen of the Desert parades into Bass Hall with disco tunes and award-winning costumes

Priscilla Queen of the Desert parades into Austin this week

Center left to right: Wade McCollum, Scott Willis, Bryan West and Company in the number “I Will Survive”.
Center left to right: Wade McCollum, Scott Willis, Bryan West and Company in the number “I Will Survive." Photo by Joan Marcus
  Center left to right (flying): Emily Afton, Brit West and Bre Jackson and Company in the number “It’s Raining Men”
Center left to right (flying): Emily Afton, Brit West, Bre Jackson and Company in the number “It’s Raining Men." Photo by Joan Marcus
Center left to right: Wade McCollum, Scott Willis, Bryan West and Company in the number “I Will Survive”.
  Center left to right (flying): Emily Afton, Brit West and Bre Jackson and Company in the number “It’s Raining Men”

Do drag queens, a road trip to the Australian outback, more than 20 dance hits and hundreds of flamboyant costumes intrigue you? This is the formula for the feel-good Broadway production Priscilla Queen of the Desert - The Musical. Priscilla is going to rain men on rowdy crowds at Austin's Bass Concert Hall starting Wednesday.

“The audiences at this show are insane. They come wearing boas. It’s definitely a party,” says Associate Choreographer Joshua Buscher. Buscher was the dance captain in the original Broadway production, and as associate choreographer of the first national tour of the show, his job was to help recreate all of the original choreography to suit a traveling production.

He says the outrageous costumes make the dance numbers for Priscilla quite unique. “The choreography is built around the costumes so that the costumes are always at the forefront — because basically it’s a costume parade. [The show] has 500 costumes,” he explains.

Five hundred Tony Award-winning costumes, no less, that are full of color, creativity and whimsy. “Our [choreography] is very elaborate because performers are in giant cupcake, lizard or paintbrushes costumes.” 

The show soundtrack includes more than 20 classic disco and dance songs including “I Will Survive,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Hot Stuff,” and “Material Girl.”  “As a performer, if you are tired before the show starts, you wake up the second the curtain goes up because the first number is 'It’s Raining Men,'" Bushcher says. "Who doesn’t want to dance around to that?” 

But Buscher says beyond all of the glitz, glam and disco tunes, Priscilla Queen of the Desert (which is based on the 1994 Academy Award-winning movie The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert) is a story about friendship, finding oneself and family. “If people are nervous about the show’s content, because of the drag queen and the transsexual, it’s so above and beyond that. That’s just what helps create this elaborate world. It’s not about that — it’s about relationships.” 

He says the people who enjoy the show most are those who come with no pre-conceptions and just want to be entertained. “I think people should be willing to have an open mind. They should go get a cocktail before the show and bring a boa and have a good time.”

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Priscilla Queen of the Desert is at Bass Concert Hall from May 8-12. Tickets start at $30.