Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Burgess Hill Musical Theatre Society, Martlets Hall
They promised to give the Martlets Hall a ‘send off to remember’ and the Burgess Hill Musical Theatre Society certainly did not disappoint, raising the roof with their spectacular production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.
The actors delivered flamboyant and funny performances radiating a magic that had the audience riveted from start to finish.
The musical numbers were performed with rousing vocals and a vibrancy that created a fiesta feel throughout.
The musical tells the adventures of two drag queens, Tick and Adam, and transgender women, Bernadette, who travel across the Australian outback in a battered bus named Priscilla. It is a heart-warming tale of self-discovery and acceptance, featuring a dazzling array of costumes and a non-stop parade of dance-floor classics.
Vivacious ‘Divas’ Danielle Newton, Michelle Bryant and Kate Stenhouse kept the place rocking as they delivered number after number with their stunning voices.
Paul Bryant gave a sensitive, expressive and convincingly womanly performance as leading ‘lady’ Bernadette. His mannerisms were spot on and he radiated warmth and humour. James Edwards as Tick, or alter-ego ‘Mitzi’, succeeded in achieving the difficult balance between femininity and boyish masculinity, and Mathew Wells as Adam or ‘Felicia’ lit up the stage with his huge personality and powerful voice. His hilarious lip-synching to the opera music had some of the audience crying with laughter.
Bill Kirwan’s characterisation as love interest Bob was flawless, from his Australian accent and manly charm to his facial expressions and rich singing voice.
Dawn Holland’s portrayal of barmaid Shirley was screamingly disgusting and comic dynamo Karen O’Brien’s Cynthia gave the audience an eye-opening surprise!
Helen Mullany as Marion was both forthright and caring while Ciaran Kiely’s Miss Understanding was outrageously Tina Turner-like. Henry Godwin mouthed elegantly to ‘A Fine Romance’ as the young Bernadette, and Beau West was perfect as Tick’s son Benji. His bedtime duet with Dad was heart-warming.
The fantastic score features hits of the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s, like ‘I will Survive’, ‘Hot stuff’ and ‘It’s Raining Men’, performed with wholehearted glee from a cast and ensemble with superb vocal ability.
Fabulous choreography and extraordinary costumes – paint brushes, huge headpieces, umbrellas and cupcakes – created a surreal visual kaleidoscope and the joy emanating from both cast and audience was palpable.
Burgess Hill Musical Theatre Society should be supremely proud of their triumph of a show, which prompted standing ovations at every performance and will stay in the minds of all those fortunate enough to see it forever.
BHMTS’ next production will be Sister Act at Clair Hall, Haywards Heath, in Spring 2019. For more info about tickets or auditions go to www.bhmts.org.uk.
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