Swinging through town for a quick, two-week engagement is the Broadway tour of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: The Musical, now playing at the Orpheum. Fans of the early 90s movie, as well as fans of bawdy musicals and drag queens in general, should try to snag a seat before it's gone.
Like the 1994 film of the same name, the show features three Australian drag queens taking a journey on a bus through the outback, as well as a bunch of pop and disco hits like "I Love the Nightlife," "Go West," and "Finally." But the musical is stuffed with a couple dozen other radio hits as well, from Madonna's "Material Girl" and "Holiday" to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" and "What's Love Got to Do With It." And using a convention not seen before in a live musical, a trio of female singers belt the songs either from the flies, or from the side of the stage, while the drag queen main characters lip sync to them.
The show snagged two Tony nominations for its 2011-12 Broadway run, and it took home the award for costume design–with costumes by the same team of Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner who won the Oscar for costume design for the film for their wacky, elaborate headpieces and things like a dress made entirely of flip-flops. It went on to spend a year and a half on Broadway, finishing 526 performances last June, and it's also had successful runs in Sydney, New Zealand, London, and Toronto. (See the NYT review of the Broadway production here.)
The touring cast features Broadway vet Scott Willis as the stalwart trans character Bernadette; young Broadway performer Bryan West as Felicia, who's previously been in the companies of Hairspray and Wicked; and Wade McCollum, who SF theatergoers may have seen in Jersey Boys, playing Tick/Mitzi.
Get tickets here, and note that the run at the Orpheum, which opened Wednesday night, closes August 31.
Below, a taste of the 'I Will Survive' number, via The View in 2011.