Priscilla, Queen of the Desert – entry 1 of 5 that will make my fellow Broadway/theater geeks a little green

I could nearly feel the jealousy via facebook as I chronicled my adventures in NYC at the Broadway League Spring Road Conference last week.  Sorry, y’all.  I won’t lie; it was much fun.  I’m going to try to chronicle it by breaking the days down by show.

Day One (5/9/11)
I was the first to the airport, a big shock to my colleagues, who take no small measure of glee in reminding me of how notoriously bad I am at rising and becoming functional in the morning.  We had a direct flight to NYC (bliss) and my hotel roommate and I zipped through the TKTS line, then enjoyed some sushi before heading to the first of many parties.  This one was on stage at the Sondheim Theatre – my second time on a Broadway stage, the first being when I danced with the cast and audience during the curtain call of Hair!  It was the Anything Goes set – more on that show in the next entry.  I think there was another party in there – thrown by RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles, which played at my arts center long before it played on Broadway.  Yeah, we’re just that cool.

Then it was off to Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.  I have never seen the movie, and truly, all I knew about the show was that it’s about drag queens.  Turns out, you didn’t need to know more than that. 

Costumes.  Rainbows.  Dancing cupcakes.  Divas.  Washboard abs.

It was a glorious night of fun and pageantry. 

I always roll my eyes a little when creative Broadway teams say stuff like “but really it’s about the characters and their journey”, but in this case, it was a literal journey, taken in a giant pink bus that felt a little like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag – full of the strangest and most delightful of surprises – helped along by more than 500 costumes that seemed to grow bigger and more outrageous with each number. 

What is it about drag queens?  I mean, really?  Why are they so fascinating?  I’m not sure, but there was a line in the show that is still sticking with me. It follows some violence, and goes something like this: “These girls should stay in the city.  It’s the only safe place for them.”  How sad that in many cases, this is the truth. 

But that was one small moment of solemnity in two hours of partying that resembled one of those sugar-filled swizzle sticks that kids eat at fairs.  What a riot.  I’m so very glad that I got to see this show.  And really, was there any doubt that I would love it?  When one of the first songs is “It’s Raining Men?”  Sung by three powerhouse divas and danced by gorgeous men in fabulous costumes?

Hallelujah, indeed.

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