City College Times

Actors display talent in San Jose Broadway production

Justin San Diego

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Three drag queens travel across Australia in the musical “Priscilla Queen of the Desert,” while dancing, singing and giving fabulous performances.

“I couldn’t decide which was more impressive between the costumes or the singing,” said Shirley Holmes, 55, a regular attendee of San Jose Broadway.

The main character of the story is Tick, played by Wade McCollum, a drag queen who goes by the name Mitzi. Tick has not seen his son in several years so he sets out on a journey with two close friends.

Bernadette, played by Scott Willis, is a former drag queen and now transsexual who joins Tick. Bernadette ends up falling in love with Bob, a heterosexual male, on their way to see Tick’s son.

“This (production) was one of my favorites,” said Holmes. “I never saw the movie, but all aspects of the play were flawless.”

Adam, also known as Felicia, played by Bryan West, is a younger and more snarky drag queen that rivals Bernadette throughout the plot.

“Felicia is really fierce and does crazy production numbers,” West said in a statement on broadwayworld.com “There’s never a dull moment.”

Adam and Bernadette make comedic remarks on each other’s beauty, age, personality and more.

The two argue about which music to play while they use song titles from Madonna and Diana Ross including “Like a Virgin” and “I’m Coming out” to make personal jabs at each other.

The plot includes emotional scenes that involve acceptance, prejudice, love and the difficulties that come with being a parent.

The trio stops at a bar where they face a closed-minded crowd that writes slurs upon their bus and violently attacks one of the queens.

What really makes this musical powerful is the fun and over-the-top songs. Priscilla Queen of the Desert’s score consists of diva, disco-pop songs.

The Weather Girls’ “It’s Raining Men,” Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff,” Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and four Madonna songs, including “Material Girl” were sung by the cast.

“The songs were marvelous,” said Phyllis Hagan, 75, staff of O’Connor Hospital. “The performances had so much energy and movement.”

West said in a statement on broadwayworld.com that singing “Like a Prayer” was the most enjoyable part of the show for him.

“Who wouldn’t like singing Madonna every night?” he said.

The costumes were just as dramatic as the ones used in the movie, which included long flowing gowns, large wigs and glittery, sequined fabrics.

The play used three characters credited under the role “diva,” who were suspended high in the air to sing some of the more vocal songs, unlike the movie.

A huge bus lit up and rotated in the center of the stage during most of the movie as the main set piece.

The play was directed by Simon Phillips, produced by Randall A. Buck and adapted from the book by Stephen Elliott and Allan Scott.

The run for the tour is over, but “Evita” will be playing at San Jose Broadway until Nov. 24, followed by the Australian Bee Gees show in February.

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The Voice of San Jose City College since 1956
Actors display talent in San Jose Broadway production