Journey to The Heart of Fabulous with Priscilla Queen of the Desert

[ 0 ] February 6, 2018 |

by tony reverditto – 

In 1993, a low-budget, feature film crew drove from Sydney to Alice Springs with a truckload of sensational costumes donned by three brilliant actors traveling in a signature pink and lavender bus. The film they returned with, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, would land them in Australian cinematic history, go on to become a worldwide smash-hit and end up as a watershed production for the LGBTQ movement.

Filled with well-known camp classics and pop music, the stage musical version of Priscilla Queen of the Desert debuted in Australia at the Lyric Theatre, Sydney in October 2006. Writer-director Stephan Elliott’s story tells the inimitable story of two drag queens, Mitzi Del Bra (Anthony “Tick” Belrose), Felicia Jollygoodfellow (Adam Whitely) and a transgender woman, Bernadette Bassenger as they cross the Australian Outback in their bus, Priscilla, to perform Tick’s drag act at Lasseter’s Hotel Casino Resort managed by his estranged wife Marion. Along the way, they also fulfil a long-held dream of Adam’s to climb King’s Canyon in full drag regalia (“A cock in a frock on a rock”).

Mario Burrell will portray Tick and is thrilled to be making his Celebration debut in Priscilla. He received his undergraduate from London’s Royal Court Theatre and his MFA in Acting from the University of Washington’s Professional Actor Training Program.

The Rage Monthly caught up with Burrell to find out what it’s like to portray such a flamboyant character and to find out whether or not he’d ever done drag before.

“I’ve done drag three times, twice in shows and once in public. I think that every man, regardless of how he identifies with respect to gender or sexual orientation, should do drag at least once in his life. Unfortunately, it is still a revolutionary act for a man to be in a dress and in some parts of this country, it could even get you killed.”

He continued explaining his reasons, “Drag breaks so many social norms, in terms of what our society deems acceptable. When I did drag in public, it was an incredibly exhilarating experience. I think it felt similar to what I imagine walking down the street nude would feel like, it’s an experience unlike any other.

As to how he felt about the role of Tick, doing drag and getting to wear the award-winning costumes; “I’m looking forward to it, the dresses in the show are so over the top! I can only hope to do justice to men who perform in drag on a regular basis—I have a new respect for those who wear heels—it’s no damn joke!”

“Drag breaks so many social norms, in terms of what our society deems acceptable. When I did drag in public, it was an incredibly exhilarating experience. I think it felt similar to what I imagine walking down the street nude would feel like, it’s an experience unlike any other.”

Burrell opined further, “I have a huge amount of respect for drag performers. They are some the most talented, powerful people that I’ve ever met. And, when you look at Ru Paul’s career—what he has done with his life and for hundreds of drag performers— he is an inspiration to everyone. I am certain that just by being a public figure and speaking his truth, he has literally saved the lives of countless young people across the world.”

Burrell offered his opinion on the music and the particular song that he most looks forward to performing. “There are so many amazing songs in the show, but ‘True Colors’ has always moved me to tears. Just hearing the few bars of intro in that song, gets me choked up. It’s something that everyone, regardless of race, orientation, gender can relate to and Cyndi Lauper has not received proper credit for how brilliant of an artist she is.”

Continuing, he offered this, “Marginalized people are still being attacked (literally and figuratively) in this country. ‘True Colors’ is a battle cry that reminds us that we need to keep marching on and to let our light shine.”

We wondered what Burrell consider the ultimate message of the piece to be and why Priscilla continues to stand the test of time. “That each of us has no idea how beautiful we actually are, and the show makes people feel good. Now more than ever, we need to gather in rooms (theatres) and dance, laugh, sing and cry together. The show tackles big themes such as love, self-acceptance, facing our fears and the fact that each of us has the potential to make huge strides with respect to what we have to offer this world. The music is just so damn good and the voices of the cast are incredible.”

Celebration Theatre ‘s Priscilla Queen of the Desert, The Musical runs Saturday, February 10 through Sunday, March 25 at The Lex Theatre, 6760 Lexington Avenue in Los Angeles. For tickets and more information, call 323.957.1884 or go to: celebrationtheatre.com/priscilla.

 

Category: Los Angeles, Theatre

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