OFFBEAT: Broadway tour of 'Priscilla' casts fun spell on audiences

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-03-24T00:00:00Z 2013-03-29T13:46:04Z OFFBEAT: Broadway tour of 'Priscilla' casts fun spell on audiencesBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

I can only hope the bus for the national Broadway touring production of the well-heeled new musical "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" breaks down as a reason for this production to stay for a long time in Chicago.

Yes, if this happened, it would mirror (as in ball?) the plot for this passionate and fun, entertaining tale (or tail?) of would-be females joining forces for the adventure of a lifetime.

I've never seen the popular 1994 film on which the stage musical is based.

But now, it's on my list, just as this musical should be on the list for anyone eager for a chance at stage entertainment like you've never seen it before.

The limited run presented by Broadway In Chicago is playing the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University only through Saturday.

The opulent show tells the uplifting story of a trio of friends on a road trip of a lifetime, who hop aboard a battered old bus searching for love and friendship in the middle of the Australian outback and end up finding more than they could ever have dreamed. And when a handy mechanic named Bob decides to join the travels with his new-found "interesting" friends, adventure unfolds with splashy musical numbers throughout.

An international hit with more than 500 dazzling, 2011 Tony Award-winning costumes, "Priscilla Queen of the Desert" features a hit parade of dance-floor favorites including "It's Raining Men," "Finally," "I Will Survive" and so many more favorite tunes from the decades of decadence that were the 1970s and 1980s.

But most of all, the audience has fun laughing with the central characters, rather than laughing at them. As a bonus to all of the outrageous moments of excess from glitter, false eyelashes and gowns galore, there are also lessons to learn and messages to share. These are more than cartoon characters dolled up from amusement. They are people who are easy to care about and cheer for as they face life's rough spots.

Leading the cast is warm and wonderful Wade McCollum who plays Tick, a man torn between performing and also being a father. Just his smile lights up the stage, long before he adds any sequins to his garb.

At his side is Scott Willis as transformed Bernadette, who is likable and believable in every line and movement.

The sugar and spice to this recipe is Bryan West, who is a dynamo as the Madonna pop singer obsessed Adam.

The costume design by Tim Chappel and Lizzy Gardiner are stunning and eye-popping and the massive tour bus set created by Brian Thomson dazzles.

See this show and you'll look at the world around you in a whole new light and wonderment.

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. performances Wednesday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 7:30 p.m. today. Tickets are $28-$85 at (800) 775-2000 or or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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