Priscilla: Queen of the Desert is coming to Murray Bridge

The stage musical will make its South Australian amateur premiere at the town hall next month.

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Joanne Ahrens, Max Rayner, Prue Cartledge, Kurt Miegel, Breigh Angove, Trent Baker, Lorelle Barton and Cassie Brion rehearse for Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Get ready to shake your groove things – Priscilla: Queen of the Desert is coming to Murray Bridge.

Murray Bridge Players and Singers will become the first amateur theatre company in South Australia to stage the musical, based on the 1994 film, next month.

A 31-member cast and almost as many musicians, set and costume designers and other volunteers have been hard at work on the show for months, and longer in some cases.

COVID-related restrictions on singing and dancing, business closures and the state’s week-long lockdown have all interrupted the rehearsal schedule.

But director Mari Reu and her team still hoped to pull everything together in the two weeks between now and opening night.

“We’re behind schedule – we haven’t run the show (from start to finish) yet,” she said on Tuesday night.

“Everything about the production halted during lockdown.

“But everyone is putting in extra hours.”

The show was one she had wanted to do ever since she saw the original production in Sydney during the noughties, she said.

Mari Reu and her niece Michelle, a choreographer for the local production, pose next to a glittery shoe after seeing the original. Photo: Mari Reu.

“I just absolutely fell in love with the musical,” she said.

“I love the costumes, the songs, the camaraderie, the themes ... there are some rude bits in it, but the story is about friendship and overcoming adversity.

“There’ll be some tears and some heart-warming moments.”

Trent Baker and Kurt Miegel will star as drag queens Felicia Jollygoodfellow and Mitzi Mitosis, respectively, while Max Rayner will fill the role of trans woman Bernadette Bassenger.

Robyn Bates, Katie Kneebone, Nikki Madula, Don Watts and Ledja Gray will also fill prominent roles, while Cassie Brion, Lorelle Barton, Joanna Ahrens, Prue Cartledge and Breigh Angove will play divas.

Each will be sumptuously costumed by Sam Pope and her team.

Sitting behind them all will be Priscilla herself, the bus at the heart of the road trip story, build to spec at Bridge Aluminium.

Baker was not intimidated by the prospect of playing a drag queen – “it’s just me with a dress on, dialled up to 11 and dipped in glitter,” he laughed.

He expected audience members would walk out of the theatre with smiles on their faces.

“It’s a cult classic,” he said.

“We’ve got amazing talent, new faces, amazing costumes, amazing wigs ... but yes, so much glitter.”

More than half of the available tickets have been snapped up since they went on sale on August 5, an encouraging sign even at 75 per cent of Murray Bridge Town Hall’s usual capacity.

So get them while you can – after all, all 10 performances of the company’s last show, Mamma Mia, sold out before opening night.


Disclosure: The author’s wife, Keren Strathearn, is a cast member; as is Murray Bridge News contributor Kurt Miegel.

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