Priscilla Queen of the Desert

When weighing theatrical merit, audiences can be forgiven for feeling a degree of skepticism toward musicals most heavily praised for their costume design. Indeed, the supposed compliment could be of the backhanded variety, suggesting empty spectacle over edifying substance. In the instance of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, however, the wardrobe practically demands attention, as it boasts over 500 extravagantly over-the-top styles. Though costume designers Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner had previously earned an Oscar for their work on the original 1994 film, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the duo's Tony Award-winning contributions to the musical make for a hyperkinetic parade of fabulously flamboyant haute couture. The wardrobe is a perfect fit for the trio at the story's center, a fellowship consisting of two drag queens and a transsexual venturing across the Australian outback in a lavender bus. Though the characters are destined for a drag show in a remote resort town, the work is defined by encounters along the way. Intolerant bigots alternate with unexpected friends, as each chance meeting is depicted in lavishly choreographed dance sequences scored to a pop playlist drawn from the last three decades. In collaboration with playwright Allan Scott, screenwriter/director Stephen Elliott has preserved the spirit of his earlier film, crafting vibrantly engaging entertainment that still manages to focus empathy on the personalities reveling in the spectacle. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Tuesdays-Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.; Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 2 p.m.; Sundays, 1 & 6:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 8. Continues through Jan. 13, 2013

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Orpheum Theatre

910 Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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