Priscilla Queen of the Desert photo credit Darren Bell

There could not have been a more appropriate show to reopen the New Theatre than Priscilla Queen Of The Desert which exploded in a joyous riot of colour, fun, sequins, innuendoes, song and dance last night.

By the end of the stunning performance the entire audience was on its feet clapping and cheering them on as the cast brought us to a finale of disco heaven and the bitter sweet story wound to its merry end.

Nothing could be more apt than a musical about acceptance and love in these pandemic, society-rifting times as we boogied, laughed and let it all go.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert photo credit Darren Bell

The relief in the audience was palpable, not only that this wonderful Oxford theatre was reopen again after a year and a half of darkness, but that we could be so uplifted. Which means the entire cast deserved every singe clap, cheer and whistle.

For those who haven’t seen it, Priscilla Queen Of The Desert, so brilliantly encapsulated in the classic 1994 film, follows two drag queens and a transgender woman across the outback of Australia on a journey to Alice Springs where they will perform at the casino, and Tick, played by Edwin Ray, will meet his young son for the first time.

What follows is a hilarious, often poignant and unashamedly camp voyage of discovery for both them and us.

A very elegant Bernadette (Miles Western), and an intoxicating and irrepressible Felicia (Nick Hayes), help sail the beloved ship, or in this case old bus Priscilla, through a hostile landscape of prejudice and ignorance, meeting some wonderful and fearful characters along the way.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert photo credit Darren Bell

From outback bars to mining towns, from the highs of opera to an attempted rape, it is as prescient a tale now as it was then in 2006 when Priscilla first opened as a musical in Sydney.

From the sets to the costumes, this was a no holds bar experience of excessive exuberance only enhanced by the familiar dance floor fillers from It’s Raining Men to Hot Stuff and Boogie Wonderland which raised the tempo and the pulses.

Priscilla Queen of the Desert Miles Western, Edwin Ray and Nick Hayes photo credit Darren Bell

Huge praise must go the awesome three divas (Claudia Kariuki, Aiesha Pease and Rosie Glossop), whose musical scope and range left our jaws on the floor.

As for the hilarious script, it’s memorable one liners, “that’s just what this country needs: a cock in a frock on a rock,” will stay with me long after the curtain goes down, as will the glorious ping pong number.

So if I were you, and if you haven’t already, I’d book your tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert which is on at the New Theatre until Saturday.