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Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Movie and Stage Musical

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Daniel Scott, Tony Sheldon and Jeremy Stanford in the original cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Daniel Scott, Tony Sheldon and Jeremy Stanford in the original cast of Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Photo: Jeff Busby, courtesy Priscilla Queen of the Desert

The Priscilla saga started as a movie, The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, in 1994 and went on to draw audiences in Australia and other parts of the world.

It was reported to have caused a near-riot at the Cannes Film Festival, and — out of several film awards and nominations — won two Academy Awards although not for best film, direction or acting.

Outback locations

Filmed on location in such distinctively Australian places as Coober Pedy, Alice Springs, Broken Hill and around Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, the film was described as a road movie with attitude and frolicked with frocks through the Australian Outback on a lavender bus named Priscilla.

The movie starred Hugo Weaving, Guy Pearce and Terence Stamp. It was written and directed by Stephan Elliott.

From Sydney to London

From this movie has come the stage production of Priscilla Queen of the Desert the Musical which debuted in 2006 at Sydney's Lyric Theatre at Star City, went on to tour other Australian cities and Auckland, New Zealand, returned to Sydney for another season before flying overseas to England, opening at the Palace Theatre in London in March 2009.

Priscilla is touring the United States this year.

Spectacular triumph

Priscilla Queen of the Desert is the story of three "drag" performers who travel from Sydney and across the Australian outback in the old bus.

The movie goes on to a spectacular triumph on top of a very large rock which the filmmakers had hoped would be Uluru. But Uluru is a site sacred to the Aboriginal people and to have three drag queens cavorting there was just simply a no-no.

Creative team and stars

The stage musical's creative team is led by director Simon Phillips and choreographer Ross Coleman along with musical director Stephen "Spud" Murphy and set designer Brian Thomson. The Oscar-winning costume design duo from the movie, Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner, have collaborated to bring the stage show to life.

The 30-member cast was led by Tony Sheldon, joined by Bill Hunter reprising his role from the original movie as Bob, the kind-hearted mechanic, and Collette Mann who played Shirley, the pub owner of Broken Hill. Joining the all-star lineup for the 2009 Sydney return season was Todd McKenney (who starred in the original Boy from Oz musical in Australia, which role was filled on Broadway by actor Hugh Jackman).

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